'One in five' British businesses hacked by cyber criminals

Only a quarter of business surveyed said that had measures in place to guard against hacking Credit: PA

One in five British companies has been hacked by cyber criminals over the past year, a new survey has indicated.

While data breaches at web giant Yahoo, telecoms firm TalkTalk and the dating website Ashley Madison have hit the headlines in recent years, the survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) shows how problem is worryingly widespread.

Further, only a quarter (24%) of the survey's 1,200 respondents said their business had security measures in place to guard against hacking.

Larger companies - defined as those with at least 100 staff - are more susceptible to cyber attacks, according to the report, which found that 42% of big businesses had fallen victim to cyber crime, compared with 18% of small companies.

Adam Marshall, BCC director-general, said: "Cyber attacks risk companies' finances, confidence and reputation, with victims reporting not only monetary losses, but costs from disruption to their business and productivity.

"While firms of all sizes, from major corporations to one-man operations, fall prey to attacks, our evidence shows that large companies are more likely to experience them.

"Firms need to be proactive about protecting themselves from cyber attacks."

He noted that data protection regulations due to come into force next year will impose greater requirements on businesses to protect personal data.

"Firms that don't adopt the appropriate protections leave themselves open to tough penalties," he warned.