According to a recent government report, nearly two in every five UK business experiences a cybersecurity attack each year – demonstrating the ever-present threat of cyber-crime in a world increasingly reliant on digital systems and infrastructure.
But the data also reveals something more concerning for businesses in the UK, regarding the relative sophistry of attacks and breaches. Is the danger truly evolving for new UK business? What exactly are the risks associated with cyber-attacks, and how can businesses pivot to properly meet them?
The Cyber Security Breaches Survey
The cyber-attack data comes from the government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022, which seeks to understand the landscape of cyber security in the UK in order to better inform government policy and the institution of new laws and regulations around data protection and risk to businesses.
Of the 39% of businesses and charities that have experienced a cyber-attack in the last year, nearly a third of businesses, and over a quarter of charities reported experiencing attacks on a weekly basis at minimum. Not only this, but one in five organisations reported that the attacks they experienced were of a sophisticated nature – with one in five also experiencing a measurably negative outcome.
What are the Risks of Cyber-Attacks?
Cyber-attacks take a wide variety of different forms, each with their own potential costs and damages to a given organisation. The one in five organisations reporting more sophisticated attacks were experiencing denial-of-service and ransomware attacks – the former of which describes a co-ordinated effort to ‘clog’ servers with information requests, and the latter of which describes a virus that locks access to systems or data with a ransom demand for release or relinquishment.
Cyber-attacks can also be as simple as the harvesting of information from ostensibly private servers, which scammers can then use to target customer bases and commit identity fraud. Phishing is another form of cyber-scam that can constitute a cyber-attack, which harvests confidential information through impersonation of an official source or accredited individual.
Put simply, the costs of cyber-crime to a business can range widely – from the direct loss of income through ransom demands or fraudulent transactions, to the compromise of customer and client safety through information and data leaks.
Addressing Cybersecurity Risk
But how can a business effectively meet the risk posed by the growing threat of cyber-crime? Much of the risk can be mitigated simply through training; consultancy services commonly advise businesses to tighten up security beginning with staff, through training and resources that help individuals recognise fraudulent requests and phishing activity (the most common forms of cyber-crime).
Investment in tech-led solutions constitutes the other arm of the ‘pincer’, ensuring more sophisticated forms of cyber-attack do not cause as much damage as they could. Additional layers of encryption can protect sensitive information like client and staff passwords and banking information. Meanwhile, robust antimalware solutions and firewalls can prevent forced entry into internal systems.