Firms warned over cyber attacks

Companies are leaving themselves vulnerable to the "growing menace" of cyber attack, according to a new report.

Although 82 per cent of big British companies agreed that cyber criminals were innovating faster than businesses, 94 per cent were confident their systems were well-protected, the Cyber Security Monitor security specialists Detica said.

However, Henry Harrison, Detica's technical director, said the threat was being underestimated.

He said: "Awareness of the real commercial threat to private industry appears to remain low. It is surprising that the vast majority of those questioned believe themselves to be adequately equipped to deal with a direct cyber attack, as the most commonly quoted forms of IT security in the survey, firewalls and anti-virus software, leave many organisations vulnerable.

"Companies increasingly need to go beyond the firewall to guarantee the integrity of their commercial and customer data. This threat isn't simply going to go away, and cyber risk should be addressed around the board table - it isn't just the preserve of governments and the military.

"Overall, this survey shows just how difficult it is to get a balance between the conspiracy theorists and the cyber threat naysayers."

Some 92 per cent of companies saw cyber criminality as a "growing menace" while 60 per cent admitted a successful attack would impact on their organisation's competitiveness, according to the Detica survey.

Most companies (58%) see professional fraudsters or criminal groups as most likely to launch a cyber attack and 56 per cent also view employees as a potential risk.

At least 30 per cent of companies thought their business was at risk of being hacked by state-sponsored spies, while 52 per cent believed the Government should do more to help.

Recent high-profile cyber attacks have seen supporters of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks attack companies such as Visa and Mastercard.