cybercrime.automotiveITManufacturing companies are particularly threatened by surging levels of cybercrime, according to a new study.

Germany's high-tech industry association Bitkom polled 504 manufacturers and found that two thirds of them had been the target of data theft, industrial esponiage or sabotage in the past two years. Bitkom puts the financial damage from cybercrime at around 22.4 billion euros a year.

Industrial production was most often cited as the target of cybercrime, followed by warehousing and logistics and R&D.

"With the digitalization of production and the networking of machinery across the internet, new areas of attack are created," Bitkom board member Winfried Holz said at the opening of this year's Hanover Industrial Fair. "The success of Industry 4.0 stands or falls with the security of the systems deployed."

According to the Bitkom poll, theft of IT and communication equipment such as smartphones, PCs and tablet computers is the most common crime. Sabotage was also cited as a threat, because, as Holz said, "A stoppage of production can cause enormous damage in a very short time."