Just 10 percent of UK businesses see cyber security as the biggest challenge to their economic success – according to research by Fujitsu.
In the same research, only six percent of the businesses surveyed saw cyber security as one of the biggest threats to the UK economy as a whole.
Considering the almost daily headlines which are created by cyber attacks, cyber security threats and data breaches against small and large businesses, not to mention public institutions like the NHS, there seems to be a baffling disconnect between the actual threat and the perceived risk.
Not to mention that cyber attacks against UK businesses are on the rise, according to research by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
The NCSC also stated that the cyber security threat to small businesses is now 'worse than it has ever been'.
While businesses seem to be in a wonderland of denial when it comes to cyber security, consumers are much more aware of the threat posed by cyber criminals, with 20 percent seeing them as the biggest threat to UK businesses.
There is, clearly, a gulf in the seriousness with which cyber security threats are being viewed by businesses and their customers and – considering that businesses are now highly reliant on customers handing over their personal data – it is a gulf that companies need to shrink as soon as possible.
And that is not even to mention the data regulation which has been causing havoc with the UK's data market for the last two years – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Considering the eye-watering fines which businesses could be subjected to in the case of a breach – 4 percent of global annual turnover or €20m or whichever is highest in the most extreme circumstances – it is staggering that cyber security threats seem to be so far down the list of priorities for UK business owners.
If you run/own a small to medium sized business, then you should be prepared for GDPR as much as multi-national enterprises. The regulations apply to all businesses, with no exclusions. Are you aware of the data security risks facing your business? Learn more here about the GDPR data security risks SMBs face here.
A complete business threat
Technology now impacts and is implemented into most – if not all – areas of a business' day-to-day dealings, which means that the doors with which a cyber-criminal a breach a company's defence have grown at a similar rate.
Small and medium businesses in particular – who wrongly assume they are too small to be targeted – face particular cyber security threats from automated mass targeting, which is becoming a more common means of attacking businesses.
This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that many workers today – while lacking cyber security knowledge – expect to be allowed to work flexibly using unsecure public WiFi (a popular target for cyber criminals).
They are also not shy about wanting to use their personal devices for business purposes; devices which don't have the enterprise-grade security they need to keep sensitive business and customer data secure.
It is not unheard of for cyber criminals to use these weakened defences to intercept sensitive emails or try to scam a business' finance team into sending money to a new account, using access gained to the CEO's email via an employee's use of public WiFi or unprotected personal device.
Considering that most cyber breaches take weeks – or even months – to be detected, the damage which could be done by a cyber criminal able to take advantage of a momentary lack of security awareness could be devastating short term and irreparable in the long term.
Which brings us back to the worrying revelation that so many UK businesses seem blissfully unaware of the cyber security threat posed by cyber criminals and are ploughing on with insufficient cyber security policies.
Unfortunately for some, the time they realise they should have done something about it – will be the same moment they realise it is now too late.
For more information on how exposed SMBs are to cyber crime and what some of the latest small business cyber security statistics are, download our latest independent report: "Under Attack: Assessing the struggle of UK SMBs against cyber criminals" by clicking the button below:
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