The UK telecommunications industry is the most at-risk sector of cyber-attacks, according to a new study by the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR).
The research, commissioned by Montreal-based business services firm CGI Group, comprised of CEBR analysing a number of different high-profile sectors, including banking, insurance and retail, concluding that that the risk to telecoms companies is greater than it is for all other firms.
It came to this conclusion after finding that the data telecoms firms hold is of significant value, but preparedness for hacking incidents trails that of organisations in other industries.
Less than a third (29%) of the telecommunications companies analysed were found to have a high degree of expertise on IT security issues at the lowest level of all the sectors studied.
That is despite the sector holding sensitive data which respondents estimated had a value to the company, on average, of £42 million, CGI said.
The lack of expertise, combined with highly sensitive data, resulted in over half (52%) of the telecommunications firms questioned expecting to see a significant breach at their organisation in the next 12 months.
However, the good news is that 76% of the companies are planning to increase their use of external cyber-experts, with IT security spending planned to increase by an average of 12% this year.
Andrew Rogoyski, CGI's Head of Cyber Security, suggested the increase in spending on cyber security would be even higher if British companies were clear on how to approach the issue.
"Boards know it is a risk but are uncertain in their approach, often failing to prioritise spend on cyber security," he said.
"Unless more is done to improve understanding and governance at the highest level we can expect to see more high profile breaches."