UK firms demand cybersecurity support from government

With two-thirds of UK businesses subject to cyber attacks in 2018, IT heads are demanding more support from government.
11 December 2018

Government-led initiatives as critical to national cyber defenses Source: AFP

IT professionals in the UK have called for more support from the government in order to crack down on cybercrime, with 68 percent of businesses reporting that their companies have been attacked at least once in the past year.

The finding is based on a survey by Atomik Research and risk-scoring firm RedSeal of more than 500 senior IT professionals, revealing that nearly a third (31 percent) believed it fell with the government in providing more guidance and support around cybersecurity risks, and what can be done to defend against them.

The report found that nearly a fifth (19 percent) of businesses have no contingency plan in place to deal with cyber-attacks, while nearly two-thirds suggested cybersecurity needs to become a focus for their senior management in 2019.

Of those companies that had been attacked throughout 2018, over two-thirds had suffered financial losses as a result. Arguably of more long-lasting damage, though, some 37 percent reported a loss of customers following attacks, others cited negative impact to reputation.

The research comes hot on the heels of the second annual review of the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), where the results of the government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey, revealed further troubling figures.

That includes that just 30 percent of UK businesses have a board member dedicated to cybersecurity and only 10 percent of them ensure their suppliers are adhering to any sort of cyber standards.

CEO of Redseal, Ray Rothrock, says that the number of high-profile cases highlighted the need for companies to remain resilient, while senior IT bosses want the UK government to invest in more resources to prop up their companies amid an onslaught in cyber-attacks.

NCSC deputy director, Mark Sayers, earlier this month said that the UK was “in a good place” to fend off cyber attacks, owed to efforts towards rolling out early intervention programs, courses in schools and universities, and even working with the industry and voluntary sector on retraining.

He did, acknowledge, however, that there was still work to be done by the government, laying out its plans to launch the London Cyber Innovation Center, a Cyber Discovery program for 14 to 18-year-olds, and the expansionary nature of collaborative efforts that occur between the nation’s allies bodes well for the future.

Whether these actions are substantial enough for organizations to feel supported, however, is up for debate. A recent research report from McAfee has warned that companies could be ‘under siege’ from malware and artificial intelligence (AI) fueled cybercrime, specifically ransomware, in 2019.

The internet security firm warned of the rise of ‘malware -as-a-service’, such as Magecart, which will concentrate on more sophisticated crypto-currency mining, mobile-based malware and the theft of credit card credentials.