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Phishing attacks hook half of UK organisations over the past two years

Sophos highlighted larger businesses are more likely to be targeted

A fishing hook rests on top of a stack of credit cards, while a padlock sits in the background out of focus

Research by Sophos has revealed that almost half of UK businesses have been compromised by phishing attacks in the last two years.

The research explained that bigger firms (those with between 500 and 1,000 employees) are more likely to be affected by such attacks, despite 78% of them offering their staff enhanced cybersecurity training, compared to just 50% of businesses with 250 or fewer employees.

"Criminals are adept at using social engineering to exploit human weakness, so while well-trained employees are an excellent deterrent, even the best end user can slip up," Adam Bradley, UK managing director at Sophos said.

"Organisations need to ensure employees remain vigilant to the threat posed by phishing attacks and ongoing training should be part of that to spot check employees and ensure they respond correctly and continue to follow the guidelines they've been given."

Two-thirds of the businesses questioned said they have identified scenarios where employees had replied to dodgy-looking emails or clicked on links that could potentially lead to a phishing attack.

"Phishing affects everyone and is one of the most common routes of entry for cyber criminals. As organisations grow, their risk of becoming a victim also increases as they become more lucrative targets and provide hackers with more potential points of failure," Bradley added.

"Given the frequency of these attacks, organisations that don't have basic infrastructure in place to spot people engaging with potentially harmful emails and whether their systems are compromised are likely to encounter some really significant problems."

Bradley advised that businesses should block malicious content before such links and files even have the chance to appear in inboxes. They should roll out cyber security tools to resist ransomware and other threats from putting devices at risk and prevent them from spreading across a network if an employee clicks on a link or downloads malicious software.

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