Almost half of UK businesses have been targeted by cyber crime in the past 12 months, according to a survey.
Forty-six per cent of companies said they had identified at least one security breach or attack in the previous year, causing damage costing an average of £1,570.
Two thirds of medium-sized businesses and 68% of large companies have been attacked, with the latter seeing an average cost of just under £20,000 for each attack.
Almost a quarter of businesses lost files temporarily, a fifth had their systems or software corrupted, one in 10 lost access to vital third party systems and one in 10 also had their website slowed or taken down.
Fraudulent emails persuading employees to reveal passwords or financial information were the most common weapon used in cyberattacks.
The Cyber Security Breaches Survey said: While breaches do not always result in a material outcome, such as loss of data or network access, in cases where this does happen, it has a significant impact on the organisation.
The survey finds that these organisations can also face considerable financial costs from breaches, not just in terms of the direct results of the breach and recovery or repair costs, but also in terms of the long-term damage to the business’s reputation, among customers or investors.
More businesses are prioritising cybersecurity with three-quarters saying it is a high priority for senior managers and directors, the survey found.
Around 90% of business regularly update their software and malware protection.
Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, said: By getting the basic defences right, businesses of every size can protect their reputation, finances and operating capabilities.