UK businesses need to wake up to the threat of cybercrime - we're not doing enough to stop it

 
Nithin Thomas
Company data breaches have risen in the UK (Source: Getty)
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>Cybercrime has become one of the biggest threats facing UK businesses, and the number and severity of attacks are increasing exponentially.
Not only that, but the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills found that the average cost of a breach has doubled in the last year to stand at roughly £1.5m in big businesses. It also found that 90 per cent of large businesses and 74 per cent of SMEs have now suffered data breaches.

What are the risks?

Each time a business becomes the victim of cyber crime, its reputation is at stake – theft of personal data is the most obvious impact, with thousands or even millions of people being affected. There's also the financial costs of legal action or compensation that follow.
Even more damaging, however, can be the theft of intellectual property (IP), which can cover anything from trade secrets like formulae for new drugs and computer codes, to sales strategies and company contact lists. IP is extremely valuable to hackers, and we have seen an increased threat from groups based overseas in particular.

What needs to be done?

To protect the UK, we need unified standards in cyber security. No one expects this to be easy – there are thousands of different types of devices, networks ansd protocols, and each one usually requires a unique form of protection.
But with this lack of inter-operability comes an increased chance of holes appearing in security measures. To be truly effective we need end-to-end security, with all data protected from the moment it is created to the moment it is destroyed – something that can only be achieved if everyone looks at the big picture and works to common standards.
Education is also important for businesses to be as safe as possible from cybercrime – employees need to be fully aware of the threat, and understand what they individually can do to minimise risk. They often communicate vital data through their personal devices without even realising.

London can lead the way

London is an ideal location to lead the charge in creating both stronger technology and greater knowledge. Not only is there an increasing amount of capital flowing into technology firms from City-based investors, but it is also home to many of the companies most in need of security technology, such as financial and professional services.
By working together to share knowledge and foster the next generation of cybersecurity leaders, we can get ahead of the hackers, keeping individuals and organisations safer from financial and reputational loss.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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