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Volume 30, Issue 2

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Wednesday, 19 April 2017 15:24

BCI: Almost half of UK firms hit by cyber breach or attack in the past year

The Business Continuity Institute

Businesses large and small are being urged to protect themselves against cyber crime after new Government statistics found nearly half of all UK businesses suffered a cyber breach or attack during the previous year.

The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017 reveals nearly seven in ten large businesses identified a breach or attack, with the average cost to large businesses of all breaches over the period being £20,000 and in some cases reaching millions. The survey also shows businesses holding electronic personal data on customers were much more likely to suffer cyber breaches than those that do not (51% compared to 37%).

The most common breaches or attacks were via fraudulent emails - for example coaxing staff into revealing passwords or financial information, or opening dangerous attachments - followed by viruses and malware, such as people impersonating the organisation online and ransomware.

These new statistics show businesses across the UK are being targeted by cyber criminals every day and the scale and size of the threat is growing, which risks damaging profits and customer confidence.

Cyber security is a hot topic for business continuity and resilience professionals at the moment with cyber attacks and data breaches yet again featuring as their top two concerns according to the Business Continuity Institute's latest Horizon Scan Report. It is with this in mind that cyber resilience was chosen as the theme for Business Continuity Awareness Week 2017 which has a particular focus on the actions that individuals can take to play their part in an organization's cyber security, and this includes effective password control.

The Government survey also revealed that, of the businesses which identified a breach or attack, almost a quarter had a temporary loss of files, a fifth had software or systems corrupted, one in ten lost access to third party systems they rely on, and one in ten had their website taken down or slowed.

Firms are increasingly concerned about data protection, with the need to protect customer data cited as the top reason for investing by half of all firms who spend money on cyber security measures.

Following a number of high profile cyber attacks, businesses are taking the threat seriously, with three quarters of all firms saying cyber security is a high priority for senior managers and directors; nine in ten businesses regularly update their software and malware protection; and two thirds of businesses invest money in cyber security measures.

Areas where industry could do more to protect itself include around guidance on acceptably strong passwords (only seven in ten firms currently do this), formal policies on managing cyber security risk (only one third of firms), cyber security training (only one in five firms), and planning for an attack with a cyber security incident management plan (only one in ten firms).

Ciaran Martin, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre, said: "UK businesses must treat cyber security as a top priority if they want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the UK’s vibrant digital economy The majority of successful cyber attacks are not that sophisticated but can cause serious commercial damage. By getting the basic defences right, businesses of every size can protect their reputation, finances and operating capabilities."