Awareness of cyber crime and the necessity of protecting corporate and personal data are not highly prioritised at the board level as they should be.
That is the view of Sir Michael Rake, chairman of the BT group.
Speaking at the Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit today, he added that the threat also extends to governments.
"With the dependence we have on technology, a state could absolutely be brought to its kness without any military action whatsoever," he said.
He also made reference to last year's Stuxnet attack on Iran's nuclear programme: "Sending a worm into a nuclear facility is far less risky than any military action."
Matt Bross, CTO at telecoms technology provider Hauwei, said that the risks have increased as our lives have become more dependent on technology.
"Should we experience a crisis in the infrastructure we depend on, we'd see a crisis that would make the recession look like child's play," said Bross.
He added that the problem has worsened with the move to software-based systems.
"We've moved from purpose-built hardware-based systems to software-based systems," he explained. "It makes those systems more responsive, but it has also increased the ability to insert threats into those infrastructures."
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A discussion of the "risk perception gap", its implications and how it can be closed