More than half of EU firms report cyber attack losses

More than half of European firms admit business disruption and data loss due to cyber attacks in the past 24 months, with UK firms among the most targeted, a survey shows

One in five IT decision-makers claimed cyber attackers left no clue to their identity, while 54% said they had faced at least one attack in the past two years that resulted in some sort of disruption, a survey has revealed.

This disruption was in the form of service disruption (31%), data integrity issues (18%) and data loss (15%), according to the poll of nearly 2,000 European firms by security firm Kaspersky Lab.

Organisations in the UK and Spain faced the highest risks, the survey found, with 64% of respondents confirming they had been hit by cyber attacks in the past two years.

Despite traditionally having bigger IT budgets than small businesses, 64% of enterprises said they had been hit by a cyber attack that caused some disruption, in contrast to just 45% of small and medium-sized businesses.

The survey confirmed that cyber attacks were not diminishing, with more than one in five respondents (21%) saying the number of cyber attacks on their business had increased in the past 12 months, compared with the previous year, while for 42% it had stayed roughly the same.

Kaspersky Lab said that while it was good that more than two-thirds (72%) of the organisations said they had found out about a breach in eight hours or less, that left a “shocking” 25% of businesses which failed to take action during the first hours after the attack because they did not realise they had been breached until later.

As previous research found, Kaspersky Lab said the detection speed was crucial to lowering the financial impact of an attack. The research found that where breaches were detected immediately, recovery costs were typically around £456,000, compared with £1.2m for enterprises that took more than a week to detect a threat that had entered their perimeter.

David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab UK, said the survey findings indicated that the odds of a business falling victim to costly cyber attacks had increased dramatically. “This should act as a stark warning for business owners and IT decision-makers to strengthen their defences,” he said.

The results of the survey, said Emm, also confirmed another trend that the cyber security industry has been warning about for a while.

“The survey shows that attackers sneak throughout the organisation and sometimes leave few or no traces, making the challenge for investigators increasingly difficult, as well as underlining the importance of cooperation among cyber security professionals,” he said.

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