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Businesses are not treating cyber security with the seriousness the issue merits, a study by professional services firm PwC has discovered. A cyber security incident can cost a company upwards of £1.7 million and can put confidential HR records, such as employee information, at risk from infiltration.

Cyber attacks on businesses are increasing, yet nearly 10 percent of firms who responded to the survey said they didn’t know how many attacks they had been subjected to, and 14 percent had no idea how they actually occurred.

“The first thing to recognise is that there is a risk, that the HR department actually owns valuable data and so for them to be engaged with how that data is stored and protected and where it goes is key” said Richard Horne, cyber security partner at PwC.

The increasing popularity of cloud-based systems has created many opportunities for hackers to infiltrate systems. 69 percent of survey respondents said they used a cloud-based service. Cyber attacks via mobile phones are also becoming much more commonplace.