Businesses 'must focus on online security'

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UK firms need to be better prepared against online dangers

Figures published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have highlighted the growing economic cost of cyber assaults on UK firms.

According to the results of the Information Security Breaches Survey 2015, the average cost of the most severe cyber security breaches among UK businesses now stands at £1.46 million, more than double the figure of £600,000 that was reported last year.

Meanwhile, among smaller UK firms, the typical costs associated with an online attack against their IT infrastructure has risen almost three-fold in the last 12 months - up from £115,000 to £310,000.

This massive increase in costs demonstrates the considerable attention that company leaders must now place on protecting their own, their customers and clients' sensitive information.

Failure to do so can not only result in lost revenues for firms, downtime and a serious hit to reputation, but should the Information Commissioner's Office deem a firm had not taken all necessary steps to counter the threat of online attacks then companies could also be hit with significant fines.

Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey said: "The UK's digital economy is strong and growing, which is why British businesses remain an attractive target for cyber-attack and the cost is rising dramatically.

"I would urge businesses of all sizes to make use of the help and guidance available from government and take up the Cyber Essentials Scheme."

Overall, the BIS research showed a growing number of businesses are taking steps to address risks associated with online connectivity, with more than one-third of companies now making use of the government's 'Ten Steps to Cyber Security' guidance - up from approximately one-quarter in 2014.

Meanwhile, almost half (49 per cent) of all UK operators have now achieved accreditation under the Cyber Essentials Scheme - a list of requirements that aim to protect businesses of all sizes from the myriad threats of online operations.

However, due to the sophisticated nature of cyber criminals and the rapid evolution of online threats, companies continue to struggle to maintain absolute protection.

Andrew Miller, cyber security director at PwC, commented: "Breaches are becoming increasingly sophisticated, often involving internal staff to amplify their effect, and the impacts we are seeing are increasingly long-lasting and costly to deal with."

The reality is that companies now need to invest more time, effort and resources than ever before into addressing online dangers and safeguarding their sensitive data.

"With nine out of ten respondents reporting a cyber breach in the past year, every organisation needs to be considering how they defend and deal with the cyber threats they face," Mr Miller concluded.