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Cyber threat to UK firms "greater than ever before", warns report

British companies are being targeted by more cyber attacks than ever before, according to a new report from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

The report, which was authored by the NCSC and the National Crime Agency (NCA) with the support of industry partners, claims that the cyber risks to UK-based companies are growing rapidly.

Not only does it discuss the dangers posed by traditional hacking techniques like ransomware, but the report also highlights emerging threats such as cloud storage theft and cryptojacking.

According to the NCSC and National Crime Agency, basic cyber security protections are “no longer enough” to fight off increasingly sophisticated attacks.

Firms that “prioritise cyber security” and “work closely with government and law enforcement” are more likely to be effective at stopping cyber criminals in their tracks, said the report. 

Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the NCSC, explained that the organisation has been working with law enforcement officials to develop a better insight into the changing cybercrime landscape.

“This joint report brings together the combined expertise of the NCA and the NCSC. The key to better cyber security is understanding the problem and taking practical steps to reduce risk,” he said.

“This report sets out to explain what terms like cryptojacking and ransomware really mean for businesses and citizens, and using case studies, shows what can happen when the right protections aren’t in place.”

The research also revealed that most businesses are exposed to ransomware, data breaches and supply chain weaknesses, all of which can result in “serious financial and reputational damage”.

Although law enforcement and government officials are doing more to tackle growing cyber crime in the UK, businesses are “under-reporting” cyber crime.

As a result, much “crucial evidence and intelligence about cyber threats and offenders is lost”.

Donald Toon, director of the NCA’s prosperity command, said: “UK business faces a cyber threat which is growing in scale and complexity.

“Organisations which don’t take cyber security extremely seriously in the next year are risking serious financial and reputational consequences.

“By increasing collaboration between law enforcement, government and industry we will make sure the UK is a safe place to do business and hostile zone for cyber criminals.

Raj Samani, chief scientist and fellow at McAfee, said both private and public sector organisations are at “great risk” from cyber attacks.

“From critical national infrastructure and large businesses, to Dublin Zoo, all organisations need to understand that the data they hold and possible disruption to services makes them a hot target for cyber criminals,” he said.

“The NCSC rightly highlights the importance of collaboration in underpinning the UK’s response to cyberattacks.

“One way to do this in in adopting threat intelligence sharing. In learning about the attacks that other similar organisations are facing, IT and security professionals can ensure that they are prepared to defend against the popular attacks of the day.”

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