Cyber security is a growing problem across the world, with the UK intelligence agency GCHQ the latest to reveal the extent to which it is under attack.
Director of the group Sir Iain Lobban explained in an interview for BBC Radio 4 that business secrets are being stolen on an industrial scale, highlighting the need to carry out penetration testing.
He continued: "People are going after intellectual property and then seeking to translate it into national gain.
"We started a couple of years ago thinking this was going to be very much about the defence sector but really it's any intellectual property that can be harvested."
Sir Lobban emphasised that some foreign hackers have been successful at putting firms at risk for up to two years, showing the extent to which their activities go undetected.
This follows the release of the Trustwave 2013 Global Security Report, which showed that cyber criminals are unlikely to ever stop in their quest to obtain data.
It explained that mobile malware is becoming an increasingly popular means of stealing personal data, although web applications remain one of the most common targets.
Android systems in particular are vulnerable at the moment, the findings showed.