Businesses right across the UK, including those in Northern Ireland, are being urged to improve their cybersecurity processes and be more vigilant about potential threats, after new data from the UK government revealed that almost half of all businesses in the UK were either the target of a cybersecurity attack or the victim of a security breach during the past year.
The government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017 has revealed that larger companies were even more at risk, with nearly seven in ten large businesses identifying at least one breach or attack during the past 12 months. The cost to each of these larger businesses came in at an average of £20,000, although for some the cost of a breach was much higher, amounting to millions of pounds in a single year in some cases.
While large businesses may be targeted by cybercriminals more often, the data revealed that small businesses are far from immune, and often take considerably longer to recover from a cybersecurity breach or attack.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, businesses that hold valuable customer data were more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals than those that do not – 51 per cent compared to 37 per cent.
The most common cybersecurity breaches or attacks during the past 12 months were the result of phishing emails, followed by viruses, malware and ransomware.
Of those businesses that identified a cybersecurity breach or attack, almost a quarter had a temporary loss of files, a fifth suffered corrupted software or systems, one in ten lost access to business-critical third party systems, and one in ten had their website compromised.
Ciaran Martin, CEO of the UK government’s new 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.”