MORE than 80 per cent of Scottish consumers worry about which businesses have access to their data and whether their details are protected, research has revealed.

The Cyber Breaches Security Survey, carried out by Ipsos Mori for the UK Government, found two-thirds of large British businesses have experienced a cyber attack or breach in the last 12 months – one in four of which were attacked at least once a month.

Four out of five Scottish consumers told researchers that hearing about security breaches via media, friends or family makes them concerned about the safety of their information.

A total of 84 per cent are concerned about which businesses have access to their data and whether it is safe but only two per cent of the businesses and organisations across the UK which have signed up to a free government cyber safety scheme are from Scotland.

More than half (53 per cent) of small businesses in Scotland think it is unlikely or very unlikely they would be a target for an attack and only 23 per cent feel completely prepared for one, with 19 per cent saying they have not taken any steps to protect their data.

Results from the survey have been released alongside the Government’s Cyber Governance Health Check – which was launched following the TalkTalk cyber attack in October 2015.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey urged businesses to take steps to better protect themselves, saying: “The UK is a world-leading digital economy and this Government has made cyber security a top priority.

“Too many firms are losing money, data and consumer confidence with the vast number of cyber attacks. It’s absolutely crucial businesses are secure and can protect data.

“As a minimum, companies should take action by adopting the Cyber Essentials scheme which will help them protect themselves.”

Findings show that in some cases the cost of cyber breaches and attacks on businesses in the UK reached millions, and that almost half of the top FTSE 350 businesses regarded this as the biggest threat.

It was also revealed that seven out of 10 attacks on all UK firms involved viruses, spyware or malware, which could have been prevented, and how only one fifth of businesses have a clear view of the dangers of sharing information with third parties.

Over the next five years the Government has pledged to invest £1.9 billion to tackle and prevent the crime, as well as creating a new National Cyber Security Centre to offer security support.

Tomorrow, more than 350 delegates from Police Scotland, Europol and a raft of digital security companies and academics will gather at Napier University’s Cyber Academy for a Big Data in Cyber Security event.

Speakers include Detective Inspector Eamonn Keane of Police Scotland’s cyber crime unit, Hewlett Packard Enterprise security strategist Tim Grieveson, and Steve Livingston from Lloyds Banking security operations.

Last week global security group Symantec said the price of stolen data such as credit card details, dropped last year, suggesting that supply was increasing.

Cybercrime costs the world economy £393.6 billion a year and the total is rising, according to a report by Symantec released last week.

Symantec pointed out that China was the origin of 46 per cent of malicious activity – up from 16 per cent in 2014 – while the US figure fell from 16 per cent to half that over the same period.