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The annual cost of cyber crime to businesses continues to rise, with US firms now paying an average of $15 million – the highest global average – representing an increase of nearly 20 percent year over year.

According to the results of the latest Cost of Cyber Crime Study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, US companies bear significantly higher costs compared to their global counterparts.

In 2015, the total cost of cyber crime for UK organizations amounted to $6.32 million; companies in Germany saw costs of $7.5 million, while Australian firms reported average costs of $3.47 million.

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Source: 2015 Cost of Cyber Crime 2015 Study: Global, Ponemon Insitute

The study found that the average annualized cost of cyber crime worldwide now stands at $7.7 million – a net increase of 1.9 percent over the past year.

“With cyber attacks growing in both frequency and severity, understanding of the financial impact can help organizations determine the appropriate amount of investment and resources needed to prevent or mitigate the consequences of an attack,” said Ponemon Institute chairman and founder Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder in a statement.

The report also highlighted that cyber crime costs vary considerably by organizational size. Small organizations experienced costs more than double the per-capita cost of large organizations – $1,388 per seat compared to $431 per seat, respectively.

Furthermore, the longer it takes organizations to resolve an attack, the more costly it becomes. The study found that the average time to resolve a cyber attack is 46 days, leading to an average cost of approximately $1.5 million.

However, organizations taking proactive measures to address these cyber security challenges, such as investing in security intelligence technologies and using governance practices, proved to be more efficient in detecting and containing cyber attacks, as well as reducing costs.

“Findings show companies that invest in adequate resources, employ certified or expert staff and appoint a high-level security leader have cyber crime costs that are lower than companies that have not implemented these practices,” said Ponemon.

For more information, download the complete 2015 Cost of Cyber Crime Study here.