Monday 8 February 2016 4:40 am

Cyber attacks and data breaches are biggest threat to business in 2016 - Business Continuity Institute

Cyber attacks and high-profile data breaches are the biggest threat to business in 2016, according to a survey of 500 companies from around the world.

A whopping eighty-five per cent of risk experts polled by the Business Continuity Institute said they were concerned by the prospect of a cyber attack over the next 12 months, ​up from 82 per cent last year.

​The number of companies expressing fear over the potential loss of sensitive data has also increased from 74 per cent to 80 per cent.

Cyber crime came out ahead of terrorist attacks, excessive red tape, and skills shortages as a concern.

High-profile cyber attacks at Ashley Madison in the US, and TalkTalk and Carphone Warehouse in the UK have exposed the vulnerabilities of large companies to cyber crime. Dido Harding, chief executive of TalkTalk, said that the attack last October cost it £60m and 100,000 customers.

Large companies and banks said they were particularly vulnerable to a malicious attack.

Despite this, only one in three firms is planning to increase their investment in protecting themselves against a cyber attack this year. Howard Kerr, chief executive of the BSI, said, “businesses are still not fully utilising the information available them to identify and remedy weaknesses.”

A government-commissioned survey by PwC last year found nine in 10 large companies in the UK had suffered a security breach at some point in the previous 12 months. The average cost of dealing with each incident has more than doubled since 2014 to £1.5m-£3m for large employers, and up to £300,000 for small firms.