According to a recent analysis of cyber security threats in the United Kingdom, more than half of businesses have been targets of cybercrime in the past year. Research conducted by Opinium, those businesses who fell prey to the art of hackers cost €29.1 billion as a whole in 2016.
The UK Spy Agency GCHQ has recently admitted that they are currently losing the battle against cyber security threats on a national level. Over the past five years, the government has spent approximately €950 million on increasing cybersecurity to no avail; however, they will be increasing their budget for the next five years.
As stated by the director of cyber security at CESG, Alex Dewedney, “We can point to lots of achievements around understanding the threats much better, about taking steps to mitigate those threats, addressing the national skills base and so on but, nationally, we are not winning the fight on cybersecurity.”
Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities of 2016
Beaming’s research into cyber security threats unveiled types of common threats where up to 23% of cybercrimes were categorised as phishing attacks. While large organisations are more at risk than smaller businesses of being targeted, their analysis of cyber security trends shows that more than half a million British businesses recently purchased cyber insurance policies in the last 12 months to deter further financial losses.
A general lack of cyber security awareness is what made the nation so vulnerable to attacks in the past, which greatly compromises British business’ reputation, trust among customers and their competitive advantage. Exploiting the vulnerabilities of the internet of things is the way hackers have been able to capitalise on cyber security weaknesses over the years.
Hackers generally target a website or business, knocking out their website, and then flood computer systems and networks with so many requests that it crashes. These technology-focused hackers are not just in it for the money from stolen data but also to alter sensitive information.
What Went Wrong?
Apparently, the major problem that occurred in the UK was that the GCHQ concentrated more heavily on information sharing and partnerships rather than making sure businesses are up to date on the latest threats when rolling out updates. Dewedney explained that “we’ve not been spending money on fixing legacy IT issues, and that is just killing us. I’ve tried to make this argument to my bosses that surely you have to start there before you try to do anything more sophisticated.”
The nation has been susceptible to attack due to a general lack of interest in funding a cyber security program accompanied with a lack of resources. Cybersecurity specialists have speculated that if the government had invested in research and collaborate with other departments, like academics, the nation would have had adequate defences against basic cyber security threats.
As a whole, the UK’s digital sector is worth approximately €118 billion on a yearly basis.
With this being said, a vulnerability in IT support services has caused a domino effect in previous years that has been recently addressed. Therefore, investing in IT support in London and other meccas can be beneficial when it comes to training professionals in techniques and tools that can safeguard their information as well as their customer’s sensitive data.
The New Cyber Security Centre
As of October 3, 2016, the UK has opened a cybersecurity centre solely focused on developing cyber intelligence to strengthen security among the internet of things. The specialists at this centre mainly deal with the increasing amount of cyber security threats.
Initially, the centre offered advice for the financial sector that was hit so hard by scammers and hackers. They started to initiate techniques to manage threat risks in collaboration with the Bank of England.
As stated by the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, Matthew Hancock, “In establishing the National Cyber Security Centre we are creating a body devoted to cyber security and this will transform the UK’s approach to an issue that affects us all.”
The goal of the cybersecurity centre is based in London and has taken on the responsibility of using the best data, skills and capabilities to make the UK the safest place to live and work online. The NCSC CEO Ciaran Martin commented, “we want to be at the centre of a new era of online opportunity and help people to feel as safe as possible when using technology to its fullest potential.”
Changing the Forefront of Cyber Intelligence
As Dewedney explains, “if customer bases increasingly actually care about the cyber security of these companies then we start to get the virtuous cycle going. To a certain extent, that’s already working.” He believes that the internet of things will only make things more complex in coming years because of the trend of increasing risk to operating systems and not just information threats.
In November 2016, Chancellor George Osborne explained that the government would be making IT security a top priority and that goal are centred around protecting Britain from cyber attacks and developing our sovereign capabilities in cyberspace…” This is a drastic change from previous years and shows more of an interest in increasing awareness of cyber security and cyber crimes.
The British government wants to develop automated defences to protect citizens and businesses against the growing amount of cyber threats by creating a cybersecurity industry to take a deeper look into different kinds of threats. This would not only deter further attacks but regain a sense of confidence among citizens and business owners alike.
In fact, the government plans on increasing the budget for cyber security, which is something they seemed to hold back on in recent years. The British government plans to invest 1.9 billion in transforming and evolving cyber intelligence to protect the internet of things, businesses and consumers alike.
With more IT support in London available when needed, awareness of cyber security measures is due to expand with time. The IT support services offered will also become an economic factor as academics, analysts, researchers, businesses and government officials join forces to fight any and all types of cyber security threats.