UK businesses struggle to balance security budgets as cyber incidents soar, with each organisation experiencing 30 cyber incidents on average over the last twelve months - a 25% increase compared to 2022.
According to a new report conducted by iomart and Oxford Economics, which surveyed 500 executives from UK businesses, the report found that 30% of cybersecurity staff that are currently battling rising cyber threats are facing burnout.
Financial constraints are also impacting businesses. Despite spending more than £40,000 (US$48,500) a year on cyber protections, the report found that more than a quarter (27%) of organisations think their cyber security budget is inadequate to fully protect them from growing threats.
Rising cyber insurance premiums causing challenges for UK businesses
UK businesses in particular have noted that they are currently facing a rise in cyber insurance premiums, with 70% noting a rise over the last two years.
With the cost of remediation and other business expenses, such as energy, on the rise, stretched budgets are causing blind spots in businesses’ cyber strategies.
Only 37% of survey respondents have security embedded into all their business processes and functions, while 14% admitted that security is only addressed on an ad hoc or as-needed basis. Meanwhile during the COVID-19 pandemic, 41% of organisations were forced to sacrifice cyber security to keep the lights on.
The report also found that a lack of key skills remains one of the main concerns to tackling rising cyber threats. So much so that 30% of cyber staff admit to currently facing burnout. This pressure also means that less than half of companies are confident in their ability to handle the biggest threats facing organisations, including phishing (56%) and malware (55%).
Organisations have started putting cyber training measures and schemes in place in order to prevent huge skills gaps. In August 2023, the UK announced that schools across the country are being provided utilise free resources to help boost their cyber skills, with the hope that it will encourage young people to aim for a career in cyber.
The UK government clearly remains keen to develop a pipeline of talent to meet the growing needs of the UK’s in-demand cyber security industry - because it has to.
Global implications: Will AI optimism help improve the cyber landscape?
However, despite these challenges, UK businesses appear to be optimistic about the role of AI and machine learning moving forward. More than a third (38%) of businesses surveyed believe that the use of these technologies will be a major trend in cyber security over the next two years.
It has been argued in other surveys released in 2023 that AI could significantly reduce malicious cyber activity, but that more sophisticated cybersecurity measures are also essential to countering these threats.
Lucy Dimes, CEO at iomart says: “Our latest security report with Oxford Economics is a temperature check on the cyber challenges businesses face. It is clear the threat of cybercrime is rising, but there’s a lack of confidence in organisations’ abilities to protect themselves against it.
“There are many factors at play that are influencing this, from rising energy costs and increased insurance premiums to skills shortages and staff burnout, which are causing huge challenges for businesses.
“While this may be the case, there are ways to relieve these pressures, with effective strategies being developed and new technologies such as AI being embraced. Working alongside trusted partners can also ensure companies have adequate cyber strategies tailored to their business needs and challenges.”
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