More than four in 10 UK businesses have suffered a cyberattack over the last year, according to government research.
In a paper published today, the government claimed that 43 per cent of all UK businesses have been hit by a breach in the last 12 months, with the figure rising to more than two thirds for large businesses.
Fraudulent emails have been the most common method of cyberattack over the last 12 months, the report claimed, followed by instances of hackers posing as a company's employees.
Ciaran Martin, CEO of the government's National Cyber Security Centre, said: "Cyberattacks can inflict serious commercial damage and reputational harm, but most campaigns are not highly sophisticated.
"Companies can significantly reduce their chances of falling victim by following simple cybersecurity steps to remove basic weaknesses.
According to the research, the average cost of a cyberattack for large businesses was £9,260, with some outbreaks costing "significantly more".
It also claimed that a "huge proportion" of organisations are failing to address basic cybersecurity measures, including updating their software and anti-malware products.
The government called on organisations to take cybersecurity more seriously, particularly with the General Data Protection Regulation's (GDPR) impending enforcement date.
Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: "Data protection and cybersecurity go hand in hand - privacy depends on security.
"With the new data protection law, GDPR, taking effect in just a few weeks, it's more important than ever that organisations focus on cybersecurity.
"We understand that there will be attempts to breach systems; we fully accept that cyberattacks are a criminal act, but we also believe organisations need to take steps to protect themselves against the criminals.
"I would encourage organisations to use the new regulations as an opportunity to focus on data protection and data security."
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