The Welsh Assembly co-hosted a study that saw 15 laptops hit with 25,000 " potentially catastrophic" e-crime attacks in just one week.
The study involved 15 laptops placed in various businesses around Wales and in front of firewalls and monitored during one working week. Of the 25,000 attacks, 48 per cent originated from China.
The Welsh Assembly worked with Professor Andrew Blyth from the University of Glamorgan to conduct the study - which saw intrusion detection systems placed in front of firewalls, with attempted breaches reported back to a central server.
Blyth said: “We wanted to look at the volume and type of cyber attacks on Welsh industry. The number of attacks were startlingly high. These attacks take the form of attempted passwork hacking, probing for network vulnerability and the spreading of viruses with alarming regularity. In addition, the threat is always evolving.”
Simon Lavin, e-business strategic planner at the Welsh Assembly, said: “Cautious estimates put the cost to the Welsh economy at an annual £290m but the truth is the scale of the problem makes it almost impossible to calculate.”
He added: “Wales has taken a lead on fighting e-crime but it’s time we all started demanding better security from people who deal on the net.
“While the government has taken a lead, it’s time that businesses and consumers begin to put pressure on anyone who enjoys the freedom of the internet - including large multinationals who trade online, internet service providers or manufacturers who rely on it for logistics.”
The study results were announced at an e-crime summit held in Llandudno, Wales last week.