Will a third of UK businesses be hacked in the next 12 months?

More than a third of British business owners in the UK said they expect their companies to be the victims of cyber-crime over the next 12 months, according to a new report.

The research, from cyber security firm CGI and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), also found that telecoms and utility firm chiefs believe their businesses are more at risk than the average. More than half of executives working in these two sectors believe they will be targeted by hackers over the next year. This is considerably more than those working in banking, insurance or retail businesses.

Businesses put an average value of £52.5 million on their secure information assets, including intellectual property and commercial data. They also estimated that the costs of not having access to that data could be as much as £2 million but the cost of a serious security breach could be way more than that.

The high-profile hack of Talk Talk in 2015, in which almost 160,000 customers’ personal details were accessed, cost the telecoms business £60m. Sony’s infamous email hack in 2014, meanwhile, cost the electronics and media giant $15m (£10.4m).

Telecoms executives, possibly influenced by the Talk Talk hack, which saw share prices plummet, cited the impact on share price or financial performance as the greatest impact of an attack. A hacking event can have other consequences however and damage to brand and reputation was deemed the single biggest impact by the company bosses surveyed.

This mirrored findings by the Small Business Reputation and Cyber Risk report, launched by the Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign and KPMG. Without major resources to combat reputational damage, SMEs can be particularly vulnerable and could be left requiring business turnaround advice.

A huge 89% of smaller businesses who had been prior victims to a cyber-attack felt that their reputations had suffered in some way. 31% said they had experienced brand damage, 30% saw a loss of clients and around a quarter had received negative reviews online.

By Phil Smith

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