Half of all UK businesses have suffered a cyber attack in 2016

According to official reports, the number of UK businesses that suffered a cyber attack doubled in 2016 with almost half of all firms discovering some sort of breach last year.

The report from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport highlight that 46% of companies in the UK suffered a cyber attack or data breach last year, compared to just 24% in the previous year. This announcement comes as the Government warns 'a sizeable proportion' of UK businesses do not have anywhere near the necessary levels of protection to prevent these types of attacks.

The average cost per attack was £1,570 for all companies according to the survey of 1,523 British businesses, rising up to a staggering £19,600 for larger companies. Unfortunately, it is usually the larger businesses that are targeted - 68% of companies with more than 250 employees and 66% with between 50 - 249 employees were victims of a cyber attack last year.

The most common type of attack was from fraudulent emails which affected 72% of companies in the UK last year. A large unnamed business reportedly received over 340,000 fraudulent emails in 2016.

Other threats involved viruses and malicious software that ultimately led to employee identity theft and company-wide system errors. Businesses involved within the communications, real estate and technical service industries were hit more regularly for breaches.

This news comes after a year in which cyber attacks regularly hit the headlines with high profile breaches at companies including Three Mobile and Tesco Bank - both resulting in the loss of personal information and millions of pounds.

Ciaran Martin, the chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, urged businesses to treat security risks as a "top priority". 

"The majority of successful cyber attacks are not that sophisticated but can cause serious commercial damage," Mr Martin said. "By getting the basic defences right, businesses of every size can protect their reputation, finances and operating capabilities."