Third of British firms targeted by cyber gangs ignore attacks

Cyber hacker

Almost a third of British firms hit by cyber-security attacks last year chose to ignore them.

Thirty-two per cent of UK companies said they took “no action” after an online security breach in 2019 despite this type of crime collectively costing British firms around $17bn, according to new research.

Sixty-one per cent of large businesses identified cyber breaches over the last 12 months, although this figure falls to 32 per cent when the country’s medium-sized and small firms are taken into consideration.

UK travel money firm Travelex has been offline for more than five days after a software virus attack on New Year’s Eve. The move also affected Sainsbury’s Bank, Barclays and HSBC, among others, which all use the Travelex platform.

The money firm said it was forced to close take its site offline site to contain “the virus and protect data”.

The most common attacks are phishing breaches, where fraudsters send emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to tempt firms to reveal sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers. Criminals sending malware and ransomware attacks were also common.

The average cost of these attacks for large firms was £22,700, though when medium-sized and small firms are taken into consideration the mean costs falls to £9,470, according to data from Ipsos Mori for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in November.

The department added that the “costs of cyber-security breaches can be substantial”, adding that “things like lost productivity or reputational damage – tend to be overlooked. This means that, when organisations reflect on their approaches to cyber-security, they may be undervaluing the true cost and impact of cyber-security breaches.”

Finixio news editor Roger Baird said: “It seems crazy, in light of what is happening at Travelex, that a third of British firms stick their heads in the sand after a cyber-attack hoping it won’t happen again. If your home gets broken into, you put an extra lock on the front door. The sample principle applies here.”