Companies in Northern Ireland must be vigilant about the risk of online security breaches, an adviser claimed after a survey showed nine out of 10 big UK organisations have faced security breaches.
Serious breaches are costing firms £1.46m to rectify, according to the findings of research by the Government and PwC - more than twice the average of just a year earlier.
Around 90% of big firms and 74% of small businesses experienced a data security breach, either from a malicious external attack on their IT systems, or from human failure that resulted in data and/or financial loss.
Ian McConnell, PwC forensics services partner in Northern Ireland, said: "With nine out of 10 respondents reporting a cyber breach in the past year, every organisation needs to be considering how they defend and deal with the cyber threats they face.
"Companies in Northern Ireland should not think themselves immune from malicious external attack, wilful staff actions, or systems failure.
"Our 2015 survey includes organisations in this region and they are no less vulnerable than counterparts elsewhere in Great Britain.
"Breaches are becoming increasingly sophisticated, often involving internal staff to amplify their effect and we are seeing impacts that are increasingly long-lasting and more costly."
PwC surveyed 664 organisations across the UK, including a number in Northern Ireland. The survey included large organisations (250-plus employees) across the public and private sectors and small businesses (less than 50 employees).
PwC said the proliferation of devices was making companies more vulnerable. Around 15% of large organisations reported a security or data breach related to tablets or smartphones, 13% experienced similar issues on their social network sites, with 7% reporting a security or data breach on one of their cloud services.
For companies with more than 500 employees, the average cost of the most severe breach is now between £1.46m and £3.14m.
For small and medium-sized business the average cost of the worst breach is between £75,000 and £310,800.