UK bosses rank computer viruses and data theft as the biggest security threats to their businesses, according to new research conducted by Beaming, the business ISP. Beaming’s survey shows that cyber security breaches cost UK companies £34.1 billion last year, with bills for managing malware and data theft incidents amounting to £7.5 billion and £6.2 billion respectively.
More than fifth (22 per cent) of business leaders told Beaming’s researchers they were ‘highly concerned’ about the threat of computer viruses. While half (49 per cent) of businesses have enhanced the cyber security defences that protect their technology and communications networks and almost three quarters (72 per cent) have insurance to cover losses caused by malware, 44 per cent of firms only have basic levels of protection in place for the risk.
18 per cent of business leaders said they were highly concerned by data theft and had invested in extensive measures to combat hackers. Fear of hackers was greatest amongst large companies, of which a third (33 per cent) expressed a high level of concern. 22 per cent of all businesses now discuss cyber security regularly at board level.
One in eight (13 per cent) leaders said their IT infrastructure had been damaged by viruses over the last 12 months, costing infected organisations £10,516 in time and money spent managing each incident. Employees were found to be responsible for infecting computing systems in more than a third of cases (39 per cent).
Large and medium businesses were almost twice as likely to contract viruses as smaller companies. 21 per cent of firms with over 250 employees and 19 per cent of 100 – 249 people businesses suffered due to malware last year, compared to just 11 per cent sub-100 people businesses.
Seven per cent of leaders admitted their organisations were hit by hackers in the last year, with the average cost of each attack estimated to be £16,264. The risk of data theft also increases with business size: 16 per cent of large companies suffered successful attacks last year, compared to 12 per cent of medium sized firms and four per cent of small businesses.
Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming, comments: “Data and intellectual property are valuable assets, but like any asset they are vulnerable to damage, loss or theft. We are seeing an arms race between businesses that rely on the internet and those who use it for malicious purposes. Leaders recognise that cyber-attacks present a critical risk to their businesses, and that they must be more resilient to meet an increasingly sophisticated enemy. Enhanced encryption, network level monitoring and secure connectivity are must-haves for businesses today.”