Two in five businesses report cyber attacks in last 12 months, major study reveals

March 26, 2021

Two in five UK businesses have experienced a cyber-attack in the last 12 months, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), is among the first to highlight the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on cybersecurity.

According to the paper, almost two-fifths (39 per cent) of businesses, and over a quarter of charities (26 per cent), have reported a cybersecurity breach or attack in the year to March 2021.

The most common attacks included phishing emails, followed by reports of fraudsters impersonating their organisation online, viruses, and malware such as ransomware, the study revealed.

The findings – which form part of the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 – suggest that the risk of cybercrime has heightened significantly because of the pandemic.

Remote working, for example, has made securing digital environments “more challenging” as IT resources are channelled out of cybersecurity and into facilitating home working for staff. The survey also shows that fewer businesses (35 per cent) are using security monitoring tools to identify criminal activity, while just 83 per cent have up to date anti-virus software.

Highlighting the findings, the Government is urging businesses and charities to closely follow guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Free and available to download immediately, organisations can learn how to securely use video conferencing software, how to maintain a cyber-safe environment while home working, and how to transition from physical to digital data storage safely.

“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,” said 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.”

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