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This is business leaders’ greatest fear…

IT disasters like cyberattacks and telecommunications outages are global business mangers' greatest concerns, topping natural disasters, terrorism and increased regulation, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

More than three-quarters of respondents were most frightened by the possibility of unplanned IT or telecommunications outages, the Business Continuity Institute, a U.K.-based consultancy, and the British Standards Institution found.

Meanwhile, 73 percent of the 690 business leaders surveyed said they were worried about cyberattacks or data breaches.

"The prominence of the IT-related threat, whether it is by way of accident or more malicious intent, is something that business continuity professionals and organizations need to take on board," the Business Continuity Institute said in its annual "Horizon Scan" report.

"Organizations need to invest in the development of technologies that can help counter these threats and, perhaps just as importantly, they need to find ways of adapting their organization so they can still function should the threat materialize."

(Read more: How investors should play the cybersecurity war)

Recent data breaches include that of U.S. retail giant Target in December, which led to the theft of personal information of up to 70 million customers, including names, addresses and phone numbers. Luxury department store Neiman Marcus, meanwhile, fell victim to a cyber attack in January.

Dimitri Otis | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

After IT-related disasters, the fourth-biggest threat to business continuity identified in the survey was adverse weather conditions. Respondents said they feared this threat even before the U.K. experienced wide-spread flooding and exceptionally cold weather hit North America earlier this year.

(Read more: Despite havoc, UK flood losses 'manageable': Fitch)

The survey's respondents heralded from 82 different countries and location affected their threat-perception. Given recent experiences, earthquakes and tsunamis were particularly worrying for those business leaders in Asia-Pacific, while interruption to utility supplies was viewed as the number one danger in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Both Japan and New Zealand have suffered as a result of natural disasters in recent years and this was evident in the survey, with respondents from both countries rating earthquake/tsunamis higher than any digital threat," said the Business Continuity Institute.

—By CNBC's Katy Barnato. Follow her on Twitter: @KatyBarnato

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