UK in ‘better position’ against cyber attacks, but most businesses not resilient

18 March 2024, 00:04

Cyber threat report
Cyber threat report. Picture: PA

Paul Kelly, director of security at Microsoft UK, said that the UK is the second most attacked country in Europe.

The UK and its allies are in a better position against cyber attacks than a few years ago, Microsoft’s UK head of security has said even as the tech giant warned that a vast majority of businesses in the UK are vulnerable to threats.

Paul Kelly, director of security for Microsoft UK, said that the UK is the second most attacked country in Europe, so needs to keep its position intact.

“We’re in a better position than five years earlier,” he said.

“Look at the amount of work that’s gone in across the Government departments, the strategies, the National Cyber Strategy, the ten-year plan, and then the hands-on guidance from NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) helping small organisations all the way up to enterprises.

“They did multiple interventions around critical national infrastructure, and that’s key.”

He added: “When you look at the stats it will show that across Europe, Ukraine is the most targeted country, second to that is the UK.

“So it’s important that we maintain the posture that we are.”

It came as a report from Microsoft and Goldsmiths University found that just 13% of the UK’s organisations are “resilient” to cyberattacks.

The fact that so few are prepared for potential bad actors attacking them online could dent the Government’s ambition to make the UK a major player in artificial intelligence (AI).

“In the high risk category we had 39% of UK organisations and they shared characteristics like low investment in allocation towards research and development and technology, massive skills gap and deficit… and in particular a lack of leadership engagement,” said Dr Chris Brauer, director of innovation at Goldsmiths.

The report said that organisations using AI-enabled cybersecurity, which can work alongside professionals, are twice as resilient to attacks.

And when their defences are breached anyway the cost of fixing things is around a fifth lower.

It said that therefore the use of AI in cyber defence could save the UK £52 billion a year.

Only around 43% of businesses have resources set aside for cybersecurity events.

That is higher in the tech and financial sectors, at 70% and 65% respectively, and lower among retailers (26%) and education organisations (29%).

Mr Kelly said: “Cyber criminals, some armed with the resources of a nation state, are ‘tooling up’ with AI to increase the sophistication and intensity of their attacks.

“This research outlines 52 billion reasons for organisational leaders to ‘fight fire with fire’.”

By Press Association

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