Cyber Crime and Businesses

Two-thirds of large businesses have been hit by cyber criminals despite measures to protect them recommended by Government.

Thousands of businesses in Britain are being hit by cyber criminals despite measures that could attack many of the attacks, a new report has revealed. The Government’s Cyber Breaches Survey 2016 found that two-thirds of large businesses have experienced a cyber attack in the past year.

Many of those breaches cost the businesses affected millions of pounds, but the survey found that the most common attacks detected involved viruses, spyware or malware that could have been prevented using simple measures recommended by the Government.

Business groups in the North East have called on their members to be more vigilant against the growing problem of cyber crime, saying that more needs to be done to stop online criminals targetting those least able to prevent attacks.

Ted Salmon, North East regional chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “Cyber crime is an ever evolving problem that affects all businesses, but hits smaller firms the hardest as they struggle to absorb the costs the most. They also do not have the same expertise, resource or time to deal with cyber crime – putting them at a disadvantage in terms of security.

“Smaller businesses want to embrace the opportunities a digital world provides but these can also lead to vulnerabilities. With the nature, scale and costs of cyber security breaches escalating, smaller businesses need access to cyber security resources and clear advice on how to become cyber resilient.

“As this report suggests, smaller businesses would benefit from increased awareness of the Government’s Cyber Essentials scheme. This can be achieved by more investment in signposting.

“However, while smaller firms must play their part, the responsibility for improving business resilience to cyber threats must not fall heavily on those least able to bear the burden. Government, larger businesses, individuals and providers should take part in a joint effort to tackle cyber crime and improve business resilience.”

Cyber security has also been raised by manufacturers’ organisation EEF, which is launching an online test for firms to test their digital resilience.

Liz Mayes, North East region director at EEF, said: “As technology and data play ever more critical roles in manufacturing, companies will inevitably find themselves more vulnerable to cyber threats. As the industry body we think it’s vital to start raising awareness now so that manufacturers can plan for the cyber risks associated with the 4th industrial revolution.

“The fact is that technology will transform our industry, opening up immense opportunities and possibilities. But risks run alongside the rewards and it’s important that manufacturers are able to identify, understand and put the correct strategies in place to keep their businesses safe and cyber secure.”

The Cyber Security Breaches Survey found that while one in four large firms experiencing a breach did so at least once a month, only half of all firms have taken any recommended actions to identify and address vulnerabilities.

Even fewer, about a third of all firms, had formal written cyber security policies and only 10% had an incident management plan in place.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The UK is a world-leading digital economy and this Government has made cyber security a top priority. 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. As a minimum companies should take action by adopting the Cyber Essentials scheme which will help them protect themselves.”

Results from the survey are being released alongside the Government’s Cyber Governance Health Check, which was launched following the TalkTalk cyber attack.

It found almost half of the top FTSE 350 businesses regarded cyber attacks as the biggest threat to their business when compared with other key risks – up from 29% in 2014.