UK companies are ignorant of digital risks and consumer law - factors which could result in severe financial loss or legal action, according to new research.
In the wake of hot topics such as the Kournikova and Naked Wife viruses, and a slew of ebusiness security breaches, research from Mori, sponsored by risk management firm Safeonline, revealed a "dangerously low level of awareness of risks from technology".
The report goes on to reveal "widespread uncertainty and naivety in the mindset of corporate Britain".
The survey questioned over 300 UK internet businesses at senior decision maker level finding "uncertain and ill-informed" management structures. Risk awareness was also dangerously low with only 24 per cent of large organisations and 18 per cent of small companies acknowledging risks.
The research found that businesses are also alarmingly complacent, with over half believing that "most risks" are covered but not having sufficient measures in place.
It showed that IT managers' security advice is often not believed, with around 60 per cent of UK businesses not trusting their own IT specialists to protect them effectively.
Keith Carby, chairman at Safeonline, said: "Businesses find it hard to identify exposures, meaning that the majority are risking unnecessary financial loss. It's very easy for any business to take the required steps to protect themselves - know your exposures, take steps to mitigate them, and then insure."
But according to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the ignorance of UK companies stretches further than risk management. Apparently, a large number of e-tailers may also be in breach of consumer law.
Out of 637 websites checked by the OFT, around 52 per cent did not fulfil requirements to give information on refund and exchange policies. The research has sparked an OFT campaign to ensure businesses comply with legislation.
John Vickers, director general of the OFT, said that "failure to tell consumers about their rights is a breach of the new Distance Selling Regulations and something which must be put right".
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