Nearly half the businesses in the UK have fallen victim to cyberattacks or security breaches in the last year, costing them each thousands of pounds, new data shows.
The government report also found a fifth of charities had been affected, in a detailed look at how organisations of all sizes are at risk of being targeted.
The 2018 Cyber Security Breaches Survey found 19 per cent of charities and 43 per cent of businesses had reported cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months.
That rose to seven in 10, or 72 per cent, among large businesses and a similar proportion – 73 per cent – among the largest charities with incomes of £5m or more, the authors said.
Types of attack
The most common breaches or attacks involved fraudulent emails, attempts by scammers to impersonate the organisation online and viruses and malware.
Files were temporarily or permanently lost, software or systems corrupted, firms and charities had websites slowed or taken down and money, assets and intellectual property were stolen.
Typically, organisations incurred no specific financial cost from cybersecurity breaches, according to the report.
But it said that where breaches did result in a “material outcome”, the costs could be significant.
The average financial impact was £3,100 for businesses and £1,030 for charities, the study published by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport found.
It concluded that businesses and charities needed to consider their “organisational cultures”, saying some organisations continued to see themselves as “offline” or too small to be at risk.
Lack of preparation by charities
Charities were typically behind businesses when it came to seeking information, advice or guidance, training staff and having written policies on cyber security, the paper said.
The findings follow a warning from intelligence officials that charities holding vast quantities of personal data and payment information are at risk of potentially devastating online attacks.
In one case flagged up in that report, published last month, a charity lost £13,000 after its chief executive’s email was hacked.