More than a third of IT professionals believe a major accidental or malicious leak of sensitive corporate data could threaten the future of their business, according to the latest research from McAfee.

The global study, which sought the views of more than 1400 IT professionals, found that 60 per cent of respondents said they had experienced a security breach in the past year, and only six per cent of those surveyed could confirm that they had not encountered one in the last two years.

Nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) of those IT workers questioned think that employees within the company are responsible for data leakage, and 23 per cent believe those breaches are malicious.

However, businesses continue to spend a small proportion of the IT budget on data security. According to the research 0.5 per cent of IT budgets are spent on information security.

“Six in ten companies admitting a breach in just the past year is ample proof that more needs to be done to address this very serious problem,” said Dave DeWalt, president and chief executive officer at McAfee.

“Awareness alone isn’t enough. To protect customers, employees and shareholders, data loss prevention needs to become a top priority at every level of the organisation, from the board room to the lunch room.”