Two in five firms experienced cyber attack, claims government report


Two in five businesses (39 per cent) and a quarter of charities (26 per cent) have had a cybersecurity breach or attack in the last 12 months, according to new figures from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 report also shows the cyber risk to organisations is heightened because of the pandemic, which has made securing digital environments more challenging as organisational resources are diverted to facilitating home working for staff.

The government is now encouraging businesses, charities and educational institutions to follow the free help and guidance from the UK cybersecurity experts at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). It includes advice on the secure use of video conferencingsecure home working and how to move your business from physical to digital. This week the centre also published new guidance specifically to help educators boost their cyber resilience.

Says Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman:

“The pandemic has taken an unavoidable toll on British businesses but we cannot let it disrupt our high cybersecurity standards.

“With more people working remotely it is vital firms have the right protections in place, and I urge all organisations to follow the National Cyber Security Centre’s expert guidance so we can build back better and drive a new era of digital growth.”

The new data shows fewer businesses are using security monitoring tools to identify abnormal activity which could indicate a breach – suggesting firms are less aware than before of the breaches and attacks staff are facing. The figure has dropped five per cent since last year to one in three firms (35 per cent). Only 83 per cent of businesses have up-to-date anti-virus software – also down five per cent from the previous year.

The most common breaches or attacks were phishing emails, followed by instances of others impersonating their organisation online, viruses or other malware including ransomware.

Where a breach has resulted in a loss of data or assets, the average cost of a cyber attack on a business is £8,460. This figure rises to £13,400 for medium and large businesses.

The figures also reveal nearly half of businesses (47 per cent) have staff using personal devices for work, but only 18 per cent have a cybersecurity policy on how to use those personal devices at work. Less than a quarter of businesses (23 per cent) have a cybersecurity policy covering home working.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, cybersecurity remains a high priority for business leaders. More than three quarters (77 per cent) of businesses say cybersecurity is a high priority – up 12 per cent from the 2016 report.

The government is investing £1.9 billion in the National Cyber Security Strategy over five years to support a prosperous digital economy. This includes delivering a programme to improve businesses cyber resilience, set high industry standards and provide organisations with expert advice and guidance.

Earlier this month the Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden set out his ten tech priorities which included keeping the UK safe and secure online and the government last week published its groundbreaking Integrated Review of defence and security.

DCMS is also reviewing what more the government can do to improve businesses’ resilience and cybersecurity, as well as progressing work to make sure consumer smart devices, such as home security cameras, are more secure.

Chris Price
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