World Economy

65% of Large British Firms Suffered Cyber Attacks in 2016

65% of Large British Firms  Suffered Cyber Attacks in 201665% of Large British Firms  Suffered Cyber Attacks in 2016

Britain’s treasury chief has warned that cyber attacks are increasing in severity and sophistication as authorities open a new center devoted to thwarting such threats. Philip Hammond has urged businesses to “sharpen” their approach as the attacks intensify.

Hammond says 65% of large businesses have reported a cyber breach or attack in the past 12 months—but that many businesses don’t have plans in the event of a breach, AP reported.

The new center’s technical director, Ian Levy, says the government will act as “a guinea pig for all the measures we want to see done by industry at national scale.” The government underpinned the new facility with a £1.9 billion ($2.3 billion) cash injection.

Queen Elizabeth II will open the new facility in central London on Tuesday.

A crippling shortage of cyber security professionals could threaten businesses in the UK, where more than two thirds of companies are already struggling to recruit the levels of staff necessary to defend against major attacks.

The global shortfall of security experts is expected to increase 20% to 1.8 million by 2022, according to industry association ISC Squared. The same body predicted a deficit of 1.2 million professionals by 2020.  

The UK is set to be significantly impacted by the deficit, with almost half of British businesses saying that the skills shortage has a “significant impact” on their customers and has caused breaches of their computer systems. 

The news comes as the government warned that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting the country and its critical infrastructure.

One of the biggest concerns is that smaller companies, which feed into a network of larger businesses and services, will struggle to recruit the necessary talent, ISC Squared warned. At the moment, 39% of UK security workers earn over £87,000 a year, which is 200% more than the average annual salary in Britain.  

Although businesses understand the scale of the problem, with high profile cyber attacks and warnings from the government regularly hitting the headlines, the shortage means the 46% of companies that plan to expand their cyber security teams by 16% in the next year are struggling to do so.

Queen Elizabeth II will inaugurate Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre on Tuesday, spearheading the country’s efforts to combat a growing wave of cyber attacks notably from Russia.

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