One in five UK firms were hit by cyber-attacks in 2016

MatrixOne in five UK businesses fell victim to cyber-attacks last year, according to research from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

In a survey of 1,285 business people from all regions of the UK, it was found that big businesses are more likely to suffer attacks. 42 per cent respondents with more than 100 staff experienced a cyber-attack, compared to 18 per cent of respondents with fewer than 99 employees.

“Cyber-attacks risk companies’ finances, confidence and reputation, with victims reporting not only monetary losses but costs from disruption to their business and productivity,” said Dr Adam Marshall, director general at the BCC. “While firms of all sizes – from major corporations to one-man operations – fall prey to attacks, our evidence shows that large companies are more likely to experience them.”

The research also found that 63 per cent of businesses are most reliant on IT providers to resolve issues following an attack, compared to 12 per cent looking to banks and financial institutions and two per cent police and law enforcement.

Furthermore, 21 per cent of businesses believe the threat of cyber-crime is preventing their company from growing. Despite these concerns, only 24 per cent of respondents have cyber security accreditations in place – of these, 49 per cent believes it gives their business a competitive advantage over rivals, while 33 per cent believe it helps to create a more secure environment for trading.

“Firms need to be proactive about protecting themselves from cyber-attacks,” added Marshall. “Accreditations can help businesses assess their own IT infrastructure, defend against cyber-security breaches and mitigate the damage caused by an attack. It can also increase confidence among the businesses and clients who they engage with online.”

Marshall also warns that the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) next year is something that businesses must keep in mind – though many businesses still feel unprepared.