85% of businesses ‘expect increase in cyber attacks’

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But 61 per cent would only act after something happened to their business or a competitor

As the internet develops and businesses increasingly rely on its services to support their own systems, the potential for online criminals to exploit the trend remains a constant threat.

And given that hackers can benefit from acquiring and selling the wealth of sensitive information that is stored in networks, company servers and virtual hard drives, it is unlikely to come as much of a surprise that a report published by BAE Systems revealed 85 per cent of businesses expect the frequency of cyber attacks to increase in the coming years.

But despite the seemingly high awareness of the threat posed by online criminal activity, 61 per cent of businesses said they would only take it more seriously if something actually happened either to their systems or those of a competitor.

"2011 has clearly led businesses to re-evaluate the level of cyber threat and impact, but it seems they are slower to recognise their true level of vulnerability," said Henry Harrison, technical director at BAE Systems Detica.

"We’d urge businesses to remain cautious and to evaluate their defences, rather than waiting until they are attacked before acting. We’ve seen a growing number of businesses lock the door after the horse has bolted."

With the report also finding that 34 per cent of businesses expect the financial impact of targeted cyber attacks to exceed £50 million, it seems that actually taking effective security measures should be a greater concern for more companies.

Given that there are a wide range of implications for a company that has its confidential files exposed – be it a damaged reputation, breaking the law regarding the Data Protection Act or significant financial losses – preparing for an anticipated rise in cyber attacks could be vital for all companies that want to remain trustworthy, credible and profitable in the long-term.

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