Just one-third of firms report cyber attacks to the police

Executives in a business meeting

Fewer than a third of businesses report cyber attacks to the police, according to new research.

Just 28 per cent of firms targeted by hackers tell the police about it, the Institute of Directors (IoD)'s report found, even though half of these attacks harmed business operations.

The survey of 980 IoD members in the Cyber Security: Underpinning the Digital Economy report, co-authored with Barclays, showed that only 57 per cent had a strategy to combat cyber attacks, while just a fifth had insurance against an attack.

Meanwhile, seven out of 10 businesses had never heard of fraud reporting organisation Action Fraud Aware, which deals with fraud and business crime.

Professor Richard Benham, the author of the report, said: "Cybercrime is one of the biggest business challenges of our generation and companies need to get real about the financial and reputational damage it can inflict. The spate of recent high-profile attacks has spooked employers of all sizes and it is vital to turn this awareness into action.

"Our report shows that cyber must stop being treated as the domain of the IT department and should be a boardroom priority. Businesses need to develop a cyber security policy, educate their staff, review supplier contracts and think about cyber insurance."

The news comes after the Office of National Statistics included cybercrime in its crime figures for the first time last year, showing such offences contributed to 44 per cent of the total.

Adam Rowse, head of business banking at Barclays, said: "Businesses must recognise the threat that cybercrime can pose to them, their reputation and subsequently their bottom line. With the number of customers going online rapidly rising the issue of cyber security has never been more important."