The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport recently released a statement on cyber security, in which it urged businesses to take better care to protect against cyber criminals. This statement follows publication of its Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2016, which revealed that two-thirds of large businesses had suffered a cyber attack in the preceding year, and that the majority of such attacks involved viruses, spyware or malware. The survey also found that more than half of the top FTSE350 companies regarded cyber attacks as being the biggest threat to their business.

The costs associated with cyber attacks can be significant, often running into millions of pounds. The government advises that many such attacks could be avoided by implementing its cyber essentials scheme, which offers UK businesses of all sizes guidance on protection against cyber threats. One in four of the firms that had experienced cyber attacks encountered an attack at least once a month, yet the survey found the implementation of prevention strategies and contingency plans to be very rare.

The Minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, urged organisations to take defensive action and secure their data if they have not done so already. The government has taken the following steps in response to the rising threat of cyber-attacks:

  • Committed £1.9 billion to tackle cyber crime over the next five years.
  • Created the 10 Steps to Cyber Security for large organisations – practical advice which helps larger businesses protect themselves in cyberspace.
  • Introduced the Cyber Essentials Scheme.
  • Created a National Cyber Security Centre which will act as a ‘one stop shop’ for organisations seeking cyber security support.
  • Developed a national cyber security strategy to be published in late 2016, outlining government plans to improve cyber security for itself, businesses and consumers.

Given the growing incidence of cybersecurity breaches affecting businesses of all sizes and sectors, the government’s investment and focus on this pertinent issue is very timely.