One in five businesses have experienced a cyber attack, with 9% of small businesses experiencing this in the last year.

This number rises to 35% of large corporate businesses.

Aviva research also found that businesses are 67% more likely to have experienced a cyber incident than a physical theft.

In addition, it stated that businesses are almost five times as likely to have experienced a cyber attack than a fire.

When looking at the after effects of a cyber attack or incident, almost a third (31%) experienced operational disruption, with a further fifth (21%) experiencing data loss and system lockdowns.

Furthermore, interruptions such as these led to firms claiming an average of £21,000 ($26,434) per incident according to Aviva data, although costs can run into the tens or even hundreds of millions of pounds.

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Stephen Ridley, head of cyber, Aviva, said: “It’s important to recognise that businesses of all shapes, sizes and sectors are at constant risk of a cyber attack – particularly at this time of year, with phishing emails often increasing around Black Friday and Christmas. The nature of such a threat means that cyber criminals are evolving their tactics, looking for the opportunity as opposed to setting their sights on large corporates alone.

“Though our research shows that one in three (31%) businesses see cyber as the biggest risk to their businesses, it’s worrying to see that many businesses do not know how to protect themselves from this emerging threat. Many businesses do not have cyber cover, leaving them exposed to high, unforeseen costs and significant business disruption which could amount to tens of thousands of pounds.”

Detective Superintendent Ian Kirby, CEO of the National Cyber Resilience Centre Group (NCRCG), added: “Cybercrime is something that can impact on any organisation, whatever its size or wherever it is in the country. It is essential that all businesses across the UK economy therefore have robust cyber practices in place, so that they are in the best position to protect themselves from cyber criminals.”