New research reveals that 70% of business leaders and directors are extremely concerned, or very concerned about the potential impact of cyber security threats.

The study carried out by the Institute of Directors found that 41% of businesses surveyed had experienced a cyber attack.

Meanwhile, 67% of directors say they have undertaken cyber security training in the last 12 months.

"A cyber security attack can have a negative impact on an organisation's reputation, finances and operational resilience," said Caroline Spillane, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute of Directors (IoD) in Ireland.

"It is crucial that the governance of cyber security must evolve in line with the sophistication of the threat landscape, along with the introduction of necessary cyber security protection legislation and regulation measures," she added.

Today's research also shows that 81% of the businesses surveyed have a cyber security incident response plan in place, while 36% said the issue of cybersecurity is on the agenda at every board meeting.

"Our new findings around cyber security IT plans, incident response plans, and board agenda items, are positive to see," said Ms Spillane.

"These measures are key to board leadership on cyber security and illustrate a director's duty of care, as does directors’ training, which will enable them to effectively assess cyber security risks," she added.

This latest survey was carried out by the Institute of Directors between November and December last year.

307 directors and business leaders contributed to the research.