BT boss Gavin Patterson warns cyberattacks have soared 1,000 per cent in 18 months

Clara Guibourg
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Gavin Patterson: “The risk is changing in its nature" (Source: Getty)

BT’s networks are having to deal with “hundreds of thousands” of cyber-attacks every single day, chief exec Gavin Patterson told delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Attacks have skyrocketed by 1,000 per cent in the past 18 months alone, according to Patterson - and they aren’t just becoming more frequent, but also more advanced.

“The risk is changing in its nature and becoming more sophisticated,” he said at Davos.

Businesses and national governments alike have been ramping up their efforts to tackle the growing threat of cybercrime, with the UK doubling its cybersecurity spend over the next five years in response to a wave of attacks against firms like Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk, exposing hundreds of thousands of customers' personal details.

Although cybercrime is rising quickly, hacking isn’t a new issue. Even four years ago, when BT was handling security at the London Olympics, the telco giant had to fight off 200m attacks in four weeks.

Patterson warned that the financial industry is particularly exposed, with a third of all cyberattacks targeting it “because that is where all the money is”.

New strict EU legislation which imposes sanctions on firms that fail to protect themselves against attack has pushed the issue higher up on boardroom agendas, but Patterson is concerned it may not be enough:

While I think there is a recognition at board level, I’m not convinced that there is a high technical understanding.

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