Cyber threat cannot be ignored – but solutions far from simple

With the geopolitical events across the world the fact that October has been Cyber Awareness Month has passed many by.

However, all the figures point to a surge in the number of attacks and the need for more sophisticated security and risk management measures to be implemented.

Data issued this week by telecoms  giant BT found that there are currently more than 46 million signals of potential cyber-attacks are seen on average every single day across the world, according to new data released by BT.

Cybersecurity experts currently log more than 530 signals of potential attack per second as they guard their global networks against an army of malicious actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities – targeting businesses and critical national infrastructure, BT added.

The most targeted industries in the past  year were IT, defence, banking and insurance – 19.7% of malware sightings are directed towards these “high-stakes” targets. The retail, hospitality and education sectors are also at high risk, accounting for 14.9% of malware sightings in the past 12 months. Criminals often capitalise on seasonal sales and spikes in online traffic, which makes the festive period a particular worry for retailers.

Small businesses, start-ups and charities are also finding themselves in the firing line; approximately 785,000 cyber-crimes were found across UK charities in the last 12 months3. This suggests that cyber criminals are going for organisations and sectors that are less ‘traditional’ targets – and may not have the security tools in place to protect them. The use of big data and connected tech is now so widespread that almost anyone can be a target.

With these rising threats BT warned that well over half of businesses (61%) in the UK say that keeping up with cyber security measures is becoming increasingly difficult. This is compounded by the challenge of keeping the whole organisation aware of the threats, with one in four (26%) businesses saying that this is their biggest pain point.

Tris Morgan, managing director, Security at BT, explained: “The volume of cyberthreats in the UK is rising at an alarming rate, so it’s really concerning that so many businesses and public services are leaving themselves open to attack. The fabric of the modern business has changed, and there’s now more connected tech for hackers to exploit, more valuable data to target and a bigger prize at stake if they make it through.”

Last week Emerging Risks highlighted data that pointed to ransomware gangs now “big game hunting” – targeting major firms as the sums involved in the successful attack significantly higher given the greater reputational impact on the brand involved.

Cyber Security Month may be coming to a close but the threat it seems is only increasing and the steps needed to protect systems from falling prey to criminals and state backed actors are ever more complex.

Jon Guy, Editor,

Emerging Risks