Just what does cyber crime cost Canadian business annually? Though numerous reports have attempted to put a dollar figure on it, true numbers have been hard to come by because most companies are reluctant to reveal not only when they’ve been attacked, but also how much it has damaged them.

The International Cyber Security Protection Alliance, a global nonprofit first launched in the U.K. in 2011, is hoping a new study will shed a more accurate spotlight on the impact of cyber crime on the Canadian business community.

The ICSPA used SecureTech in Ottawa to announce the survey of a cross section of industry this fall, including critical infrastructure, utilities and defence firms. “After you’ve done all you can as a business or a nation, what do you next,” asked the organization’s chief executive, John Lyons. “This is a key opportunity to reach out to the business community and see what is really happening.”

What sets the ICSPA effort apart from other attempts to gather this data is the anonymity of the process. Lyons said the organization would maintain a “Chinese wall” between itself and those conducting the survey. “Essential to information sharing is building up trust.”

The study, which has the support of companies like CGI Canada, Lockheed Martin, McAfee and Research in Motion, will examine not only the economic impact of cyber crime but also the nature and characteristics of attacks, including size, scope and damage to corporate reputation. The findings will be reported in spring 2013.