New data has revealed that more than half of firms believe that exposure to a cyber attack has increased alongside the rise of remote working, with industry experts calling it “the single biggest risk” to business.
Research by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and IT giant Cisco found that one in ten companies said they had been the victim of a cyber-attack in the last year, rising to more than one in seven for larger firms.
This has been especially pertinent in the financial services, where traders have swapped the office for their living rooms, exposing the market to some of the most dangerous cyber hackers.
UK Finance, one of the biggest trade association for the UK banking and financial services, asserted that the industry is already investing billions to ensure its human and digital systems are robust and secure from cyberattacks, while also sharing intelligence about emerging threats through the Financial Sector Cyber Collaboration Centre (FSCCC).
A spokesperson from UK Finance told City A.M.:“An operationally resilient financial services sector is crucial in a modern economy and is a key priority for the banking and finance industry, and firms are closely following the FCA’s hybrid working guidance.”
However, in its own findings, antivirus company Avast observed a 24 per cent global increase in business PC users encountering a cyber threat in 2021. It also showed that over a quarter of employees admitted to being more lax with IT security when working from home.
Yet despite this, four out of five firms said they did not currently have accredited cyber-security measures in place to protect against attacks.
Emma Reynolds, managing director at TheCityUK, the private-sector membership body and industry advocacy group promoting financial and professional services, told City A.M.: “Cyber security is a major risk demanding board-level oversight – for some companies, it may well be their single biggest risk.”
She called cybercriminals “pervasive and persistent”, and recommended that given the UK’s position as a global hub for finance, the best form of defence is a collaborative, industry-wide approach with action from regulators.
Ian McShane, field chief officer at Arctic Wolf, cyber security firm, added: “Reactive, preventive measures won’t be enough; businesses need to prioritise their security operations and technologies, by putting in place more robust response plans to protect themselves from all types of attacks.”
“If businesses can prioritise their security operations and make better use of their existing tools and investments they already have, this will go a long way towards helping them navigate these threats that are becoming more widespread.”