One in five major Australian businesses suffered a cyber attack in the past year, with attacks becoming more coordinated and targeted, a government survey shows.

With the most serious attacks involving malicious software and theft or breach of confidential information, essential service industries are starting to invest more heavily in tighter cyber security.

The 2012 Cyber Crime and Security Survey, set to be launched in Melbourne on Monday by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, also found that one third of attacks involved the theft of notebook and tablet computers or mobile devices.

"Cyber attacks have shifted from being indiscriminate and random to being more coordinated and targeted for financial gain," Mr Dreyfus said in a statement before the launch.

"Most attacks occur from outside the business, although it appears internal risks are also significant."

One business reported the theft of 15 years' worth of critical data.

The survey found that energy, defence, communications, banking, finance and water organisations are now investing more heavily in cyber security.

The survey was commissioned by the federal government's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

The West Australian

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