Ill-prepared Businesses at Risk from “Imminent Cyberattacks”

According to Cloudflare, 80% of UK business leaders said the number of cyber incidents has increased dramatically in the last twelve months
A report by Cloudflare finds that 70% of UK businesses expect a cyberattack soon, but only 35% feel ready despite many already having experienced attacks

According to a new Cloudflare study, the majority of businesses in the UK expect an imminent cyberattack in the next 12 months.

However, despite the knowledge to expect such an incident, plenty of organisations still feel ill-equipped to deal with them. The research by Cloudflare, conducted with more than 4,000 businesses and technology leaders across Europe, found that almost half (48%) of UK organisations have experienced at least one cybersecurity incident in the last 12 months, making it the most targeted country in Europe - higher than Germany (42%), France (31%) and Italy (25%).  

This news comes in the wake of the 2024 UK general election, which saw Sir Keir Starmer achieve a landslide victory. As a result, company leaders have called for the new party in power to examine the government’s approach to cyber resilience in the UK and how that looks for businesses moving forward. 

Number of cyber incidents to “increase significantly”

According to Cloudflare, 80% of UK business leaders said the number of cyber incidents has increased dramatically in the last twelve months - with 60% anticipating this figure will rise in the near future. Notably, one in 10 (11%) surveyed expect the number of incidents to significantly increase over the next 12 months.

Cloudflare data suggests that industries that had experienced more cyberattacks, including IT and technology sectors, feel more prepared for future events. Looking at Europe as a whole, 35% of those surveyed within those sectors feel highly prepared, in addition to companies in gaming and financial services.

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As the capacity of disruptive technologies continues to expand in the business landscape, organisations are now considering the cybersecurity implications and how to better protect their essential services and data. For those working in education and healthcare, less than a third (31% and 28%, respectively) claimed to have suffered an attack in the last 12 months, according to Cloudflare. For those same industries, the perceived level of preparedness for an incident in the future was just 19% and 18%, respectively.

This comes in the midst of health organisations like the UKs National Health Service (NHS) having fallen victim to intense data breaches impacting the confidentiality of its patients. There have been continued calls for organisations like the NHS to keep working to improve digital systems in order to remain resilient.

Building resilience 

Despite the cyberattack threat, Cloudflare suggests that business leaders are optimistic about the increasing influence of cybersecurity. In fact, more than two-fifths (44%) see cybersecurity as a catalyst to modernise the workplace and the same number to enable better cyber risk understanding by the board, leading to funding for essential projects.

“Thousands of UK business leaders are bracing themselves for growing cybersecurity threats that they feel ill-equipped to deal with,” comments Christian Reilly, Field CTO EMEA at Cloudflare. “With incidents on the rise in both volume and frequency, preparation is key. Businesses that have previously faced attacks are seemingly on their guard, but industries that have not yet encountered such an incident are shockingly underprepared. 

He adds: “Just because businesses have been lucky enough to avoid an attack so far, it doesn’t make them immune in the future. To face the increasingly multifaceted threat environment, greater investment is needed in consolidated and simplified solutions — and leaders must build a culture where cybersecurity is approached as a mission-critical strategic imperative.”

Businesses can improve their cybersecurity posture by partnering with security organisations, offer training and education programmes to their workforces and implement tools like firewalls, password protection and multi-factor authentication.

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