Technology minister urges UK companies to ‘step up’ cybersecurity protections

A science and technology minister has urged companies to ramp up their cyber protections as new figures show three-quarters of medium and large firms experienced some kind of cyber incident in the last year.

Viscount Camrose said organisations of all sizes need to “step up” in response to the “host of challenges and risks” the UK faces in the cyber sector which it “cannot ignore”.

According to the latest Government figures, published on Wednesday, 75% of medium and large businesses in the UK experienced some form of cyber security incident in the last year, as did 79% of high-income charities.

The Government said its research shows that firms have improved their cyber resilience in recent years, but more action is needed in the face of an ever-evolving landscape.

The figures have been published as part of the third phase of an ongoing Government review into cyber security, which started in 2022.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has previously warned that the UK faces an ongoing threat of cyber attack from state-backed actors, with ransomware noted as one of the biggest threats businesses face.

The rise of artificial intelligence, and in particular generative AI – which can create content from a simple prompt – has also been highlighted as a potential cyber security issue.

Experts have warned it could be used to aid cyber attackers in creating malicious code, and to upskill less capable hackers to help them target businesses and individuals.

Viscount Camrose said: “The UK is making remarkable progress in cementing our status as a key global player in cyber.

“Our cyber sector continues to generate unprecedented employment and business opportunities, but we know that there are still a host of challenges and risks that we cannot ignore.

“This is why I am calling on organisations of all sizes to step up their cyber security plans to guard against threats, protect their customers and workforce, and our wider economy.

“We are working shoulder to shoulder with industry to ensure organisations have a robust plan of action to tackle these threats head-on.

“From a code to help leaders toughen up cyber protections to upskilling the workforce so businesses have in-house expertise, these Government-backed measures can support organisations to safely unlock the potential digital technologies offer.”

Earlier this week, a report from Microsoft and Goldsmiths University found that just 13% of the UK’s organisations are “resilient” to cyber attacks.

Paul Kelly, director of security for Microsoft UK, warned that, while the UK and its allies are in a better position against cyber attacks than a few years ago, a vast majority of businesses are vulnerable to threats.

He added that the UK is the second most-attacked country in Europe when it comes to cyber, behind Ukraine.

Shropshire Star