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Continental business leaders trounce UK leaders on cyber risk management

UK business leaders are much less aware of cyber risks than their counterparts on the continent, shows research from international law firm Gowling WLG. Gowling just launched its Digital Risk Calculator, which SMBs can use to analyse their digital risks and compare them to other firms.

Almost 1,000 SMBs from the UK, France and Germany took part in the study. UK respondents consistently identified between two and 25 per cent fewer risks in each area analysed than other business leaders. Of particular concern was the low knowledge of the GDPR, with only 14 per cent aware of the fines that they could face for breaking the new law – compared to 26 per cent in Germany and 45 per cent in France.

Helen Davenport, a director at Gowing WLG, told Computing, “A factor could be that not all SMEs have access to and the resources to pay for regulatory advice and support. Whatever the reason, and despite much already having been written on the GDPR, the survey suggests more needs to be done to raise the awareness of SMEs, across Europe. Awareness is of course also just the first step and SMEs should start taking action now to prepare for the GDPR if they have not already.”

External cyber risks were identified as the biggest threat to businesses (by 69 per cent of respondents), but leaders share an approach of ‘It won’t happen to me’ – despite mostly (51 per cent) agreeing that such attacks will increase over the next three years. “This is likely preventing them from preparing suitably for digital threats that they may face,” said Davenport.

Other areas of concern included security (57 per cent); risks related to highly sensitive or valuable data (such as the GDPR) (55 per cent); identity theft/cloning (47 per cent); and rogue employees (42 per cent). 40 per cent believe that a lack of technical and business knowledge amongst employees is a risk.

32 per cent of UK businesses feel that digital risks related to regulatory issues have risen over the last three years, but only 29 per cent believe that these are a risk to their business.

UK businesses were far less rigorous about making backups, with only 52 per cent doing so regularly, compared to 66 per cent and 67 per cent in Germany and France, respectively. French businesses took the lead in using off-site storage, at 50 per cent, while 39 per cent of German firms and 32 per cent of UK firms do so.

70 per cent of business leaders involve IT support in their digital risk management; but the amount that use legal support is significantly lower, at an average of 31 per cent. Surprisingly the UK actually topped this metric, at 46 per cent, while France and Germany both sat much lower, at 23 per cent.

Only 16 per cent of all respondents said that they felt ‘fully prepared’ for digital risks.

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