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News : Report: two-thirds of UK businesses hit by cyber-attacks

Report: two-thirds of UK businesses hit by cyber-attacks

A rather alarming government report has revealed that two thirds of large businesses in the UK have been the target of computer security breaches, or “cyber-attacks”, in the past year. More alarming is that many businesses have no measures in place to protect themselves from cyber-criminals. Imagine walking into a bank to find an open vault with money for the taking – that’s the situation for many organisations.

A quarter of large companies are targeted by cyber-attacks at least once a month, and yet only half of respondents have taken the government-advised steps to identify and prevent these occurrences.
Only a third of companies had written up a formal security policy covering their computer systems, and just 10 percent had an “incident management plan” in force – a plan for how to react should a security situation arise. The UK government found that the most common incidents were due to computer viruses, spyware and malware, all of which are largely detectable and preventable to anyone with sensible security software and protocols in place.

The average cost of one of these security breaches was £3,480; not a number to be sniffed at by any stretch of the imagination. However, the average for large organisation is more than ten tomes that amount – a whopping £36,500! One company involved in the report actually lost £3 MILLION in damages from just one breach!
Ed Vaizey, digital economy minister, had this to say: “Too many firms are losing money, data and consumer confidence with the vast number of cyber-attacks. It’s absolutely crucial businesses are secure and can protect data.”

EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, has called out companies for not taking computer security seriously. Its’ own study revealed that half of all manufacturers have allowed spending on IT security to stagnate over the last two years. The organisation’s chief economist, Lee Hopley, declared that “investment in new technology isn’t being matched by investment in managing risks, especially among smaller firms.”

Along with this report, the government also published an updated version of the Cyber Governance Health Check, guildelines published in October 2015 in response to the high-profile security breach at TalkTalk, which is thought to have cost the company upwards of £40 million in damages alone, not taking into account lost customers.

Of the UK’s top 350 businesses, half now consider cyber-attacks to be the biggest threat to their business, a huge increase of 21% over the previous year. However, only one in three of these businesses understand the real threat of a computer security incident occurring.

The government has pledged to invest £1.9 billion to fight cyber-crime over the next five years, and a National Cyber Security Centre is planned to open this autumn, offering a centralised knowledge base for businesses tackling IT security. Chancellor George Osborne has stated that the NCSC would focus its efforts on safeguarding the UK’s most critical infrastructure from cyber-threats, in particular those on an international scale. This April, the Ministry of Defence reportedly invested more than £40 million on their own Cyber Security Operations Centre, intended to protect their own network from threats.

The government plans to publish a national computer security strategy later in 2016. In the meantime, if you have any concerns about IT security, don't hesitate to contact us here at Silver Lining. We take security seriously, and we'd be more than happy to take a look at your network and advise you how best to patch up vulnerabilities.

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