Call for action as 1 in 5 firms hit by cyber attacks

A fifth of businesses have suffered a cyber attack over the last year, with big firms more than twice as likely to be a target, as companies and the authorities are encouraged to do more to tackle the issue, a report says today.

The British Chambers of Commerce urged firms to be proactive in the fight against cyber-crime. Picture: Contributed

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) revealed the findings from its survey of nearly 1,300 businesspeople across the UK, saying that 42 per cent of companies with more than 100 staff reported being victims of attacks. That compares to the 18 per cent reported by their smaller counterparts.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The lobby group also found that firms depend most on IT providers (63 per cent) to resolve issues after an attack, as opposed to banks and financial institutions (12 per cent) or police and law enforcement (2 per cent).

Additionally, 21 per cent of businesses said the threat of cyber crime is stopping their company from growing and fulfilling their potential.

BCC director general Adam Marshall said that firms of all sizes fall prey to attacks. He said that such events risked the firms’ “finances, confidence and reputation, with victims reporting not only monetary losses, but costs from disruption to their business and productivity”.

Marshall added: “Firms need to be proactive about protecting themselves from cyber attacks. Accreditations can help businesses assess their own IT infrastructure, defend against cyber-security breaches and mitigate the damage caused by an attack. It can also increase confidence among the businesses and clients who they engage with online.”

In spite of this, the BCC said only a quarter of businesses have cyber security accreditations in place, with smaller firms much less likely, at 10 per cent of sole traders, for example, than big businesses (47 per cent for organisations with more than 100 employees).

Additionally, it was noted that as of May next year, all businesses using personal data will have to ensure they are compliant with the new General Data Protection Regulation legislation.

Marshall also highlighted firms relying on IT support-providers to resolve cyber attacks.

“More guidance from government and police about where and how to report attacks would provide businesses with a clear path to follow in the event of a cyber-security breach, and increase clarity around the response options available to victims, which would help minimize the occurrence of cybercrime,” the BCC chief added.