In the last year, one in 10 firms reported being a victim of a cyber-attack according to a survey of nearly 1,000 UK businesses. The survey, carried out by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and IT company Cisco, also found this figure rose to one in seven in larger firms with more than 50 employees. More than half the firms surveyed also believed their exposure to attacks had increased due to staff working from home. Aine Rogers, Head of Small Business at Cisco, said: “The lines between professional and personal are more blurred than ever.
“Organisations are no longer just protecting an ‘office’ but a workforce at the kitchen table.
“As businesses and individuals, we’re more exposed than ever to security threats.
The rise in such activity has been closely followed since the start of the pandemic by cyber security firms.
David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky, reported since the pandemic there had been an increase in attempts to gain access to company systems via remote links as well as extensive use of Covid related themes such as furlough and vaccination appointments in phishing scams.
Mr Emm explained some companies using monitoring software on company laptops had also led to employees using their own equipment instead, with potentially weaker security.
Despite the threat of cybercrime only 21 percent of firms reported having cyber security accreditations in place.
This figure fell to 12 percent for smaller firms with less than 10 employees.
BCC Director General, Shevaun Haviland commented: “The huge shift to home working, and the use of cloud computing, for tens of thousands of employees happened almost overnight, so it is not surprising that many firms were caught out by the implications this had for their cyber-security arrangements.
“All of the BCC’s research indicates that a shift to a more hybrid way of work ing, with many staff now splitting their time between the office and home, is here to stay, so it is more vital than ever that firms have the right cyber-security protections in place.”
Research by cybersecurity firm Arctic Wolf has also recently found four in 10 UK businesses lacked comprehensive cybersecurity insurance.
Field Chief Technology Officer Ian McShane agreed hybrid working practices had created “a complex set of cybersecurity challenges that many businesses have firstly never had to face before, and secondly haven’t yet worked out how to manage.”
He advised businesses to review their security practices and factor in hybrid and often disparate networks.
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“Reactive, preventive measures won’t be enough; businesses need to prioritise their security operations and technologies, by putting in place more robust response plans to protect themselves from all types of attacks” he added.
The warning comes as the World Economic Forum today named cyber security as one of the biggest risks over the next five years.
According to its Global Risks in 2022 report, Covid 19 has intensified dependence on digital systems while cyber threats have outpaced societies’ ability to respond.
The report notes malware and ransomware attacks increased 358 percent and 435 percent respectively in 2020 as workers shifted to remote working.
Mr Emm suggested while firms had initially prioritised business continuity over security, now was the time to think about what needed to be put in place with measures such as two-factor authentication and better-managed systems being key.
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