UK Gov alerts businesses to surging costs of cyber attacks

Although the number of businesses targeted by threats has fallen, the number of attacks per organisation has increased

The typical number of breaches suffered by an organisation targeted in a cyber attack has risen from four in 2018 to six in 2019, despite an overall drop in the number of attacks.

That's according to figures released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) on Wednesday, which found that although fewer businesses were experiencing attacks, down from 43% to 32%, each successful attack today is causing more damage on average, and is harder to fix as a result.

Of those 1,566 businesses surveyed that had experienced an attack or breach, almost 50% said they were experiencing at least one incident a month. Additionally, 39% of the 514 UK charities were also being hit with at least one attack each month. The report found that the average cost of a cyber attack to a business has risen by more than 1000 between 2018 and 2019, up to 4,180.

The DCMS's report, which is part of an annual nationwide survey into cyber breaches, revealed that the most common types of attacks were phishing scams through email, followed closely behind by impersonation incidents, viruses and malware.

As a result of these figures, the government has urged businesses and charities to invest in staff cyber training to ensure they are protected against the financial impact of cyber attacks in future.

"Following the introduction of new data protection laws in the UK, it's encouraging to see that business and charity leaders are taking cyber security more seriously than ever before," said Digital Minister Margot James. "However, with less than three in ten of those companies having trained staff to deal with cyber threats, there's still a long way to go to make sure that organisations are better protected."

But cyber security is becoming more of a priority for businesses and charitable organisations. Those that view cyber security as a high priority has gone up by 75% in 2019, compared by 53% in 2018.

Government initiatives such as the Ten Steps to Cyber Security and the Cyber Essentials schemes are enabling all organisations to access better resources to protect themselves against potential attacks.

"We are committed to making the UK the safest place to live and do business online, and welcome the significant reduction in the number of businesses experiencing cyber breaches," said Clare Gardiner, director of engagement at the National Cyber Security Centre. "However, the cyber security landscape remains complex and continues to evolve, and organisations need to continue to be vigilant.

"The NCSC has a range of products and services to assist businesses, charities and other organisations to protect themselves from cyber attacks, and to deal with attacks when they occur. These include the Board Toolkit providing advice to Board level leaders, and guides aimed at small businesses and small charities."

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