More than 46 million signals of potential cyber attacks are spotted by cyber security experts every day around the world, according to new data from BT.
The telecoms giant said more than 530 signals of potential attack were logged per second.
It said hackers were relentlessly scanning devices connected to the internet looking for weaknesses by using automation and machine learning to identify vulnerabilities in cyber defences.
The BT data showed that over the last 12 months the IT, defence, banking and insurance sectors were the most targeted by cyber criminals, followed by the retail, hospitality and education industries.
According to the figures, around 785,000 cyber attacks also targeted charities over the last year.
The company warned that these trends should be of greater concern when over half of businesses (61%) told a BT survey in May that they find keeping up with cyber security measures increasingly difficult.
BT has published the figures to mark Cyber Security Awareness Month, and has also launched a new podcast series called True Cybercrime Stories by BT, which details the true stories behind some of the world’s most notable cyber attacks.
Tris Morgan, manager director for security at BT, said: “The volume of cyber threats in the UK is rising at an alarming rate, so it’s really concerning that so many businesses and public services are leaving themselves open to attack.
“The fabric of the modern business has changed, and there’s now more connected tech for hackers to exploit, more valuable data to target and a bigger prize at stake if they make it through.
“With more than a million business customers, BT is the first line of cyber defence for organisations across the world – and we’re proud of our long heritage of protecting people, businesses and critical national infrastructure.
That’s why we’re launching the True Cybercrime Stories podcast: to shine a light on the shocking impact this crime epidemic can have, raise awareness of the risks and encourage everyone to think about what they could be doing to protect our businesses and essential services.”