PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 'The Global State of Information Security Survey 2015' has said the number of respondents who say they have been compromised by nation-states has increased by a huge 86 percent.

The survey found a striking 64 percent jump in security incidents attributed to competitors, some of whom may be backed by nation-states.

"Given the ability of nation-state adversaries to carry out attacks without detection, we believe the volume of compromises is very likely under-reported," it said.

Nation-state driven cyber attacks are routinely conducted on a global scale to defend national sovereignty and project national power.

Nation-states often target critical infrastructure providers and supplies to steal IP and trade secrets as a means to advance their own political and economic advantages, the survey said.

Globally, the estimated average financial loss from cyber incidents was USD2.7 million, a 34-percent increase over 2013.

"It isn't surprising, therefore, to find that nation-state incidents are most frequent among sectors such as oil and gas (11 percent), aerospace and defence (9 percent), technology (9 percent) and telecommunications (8 percent)," said PWC.

This year, 15 percent of survey respondents cited organised crime as a source of incidents, up from 12 percent last year.

By region, theft by organised criminals was particularly high in Malaysia (35 percent), India (22 percent) and Brazil (18 percent).

Globally, 59 percent of the respondents say their organisations' executives are worried about government surveillance. Concerns are markedly higher in China (93 percent), India (83 percent) and Brazil (77 percent).

Over 9,700 respondents said the number of cyber incidents detected increased at a compound annual rate of 66 percent since 2009. As the frequency of cyber incidents have risen so too has the reported costs of managing and mitigating them.

The survey cited a recent study by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies estimating annual cost of cyber crime to the global economy in the range of USS375 billion and USD575 billion.

"Despite greater awareness of cyber security incidents, global information security budgets actually decreased 4 percent compared with 2013," said Vincent Loy, Cyber Risk Leader, at PwC Singapore.

"We know that it can cost much more to remediate cyber incidents than prevent them, so it seems counterintuitive that organisations would choose to invest less overall," he said.