UK firms have fared worse than companies in other major European economies on the cyber security front in recent years.
According to new data from Lloyd's of London, 97 per cent of UK firms have experienced a data breach in the last five years, against an average of 92 per cent of firms across Europe. Firms in Denmark and the Netherlands had the next highest level of data breaches, at 94 per cent.
Italian firms fared best, with 80 per cent of companies experiencing a breach.
Lloyd's issued the report ahead of the introduction of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, which will set out rigorous requirements for any businesses dealing with European consumers' data.
And despite finding that most European firms have suffered a data breach in recent years, only 42 per cent of companies are worried about suffering another breach in the future.
"Cyber incidents have the potential to cause business interruption, financial penalties, regulatory scrutiny and reputational damage," Lloyd's said in the report.
"All of these are serious threats to a business’s revenue, share price or even survival. Against this backdrop, it can be dicult for business leaders to know what they can do to protect their organisations.
"The results of this survey show that while many businesses appear confident about their level of readiness for the GDPR, their understanding of its implications is low. And recent examples of data breaches suggest companies are not as prepared for cyber attacks as they think they are."
The report states that, although 97n per cent of respondents had heard of the GDPR, 57 per cent admitted they knew little or nothing about GDPR. Lloyd's also found that 73 per cent of business leaders have a limited knowledge of cyber insurance and 50 per cent don’t know that cyber cover for data breaches is available.