Businesses fail to grasp threat from online criminals, report finds

A study has discovered that attacks by online criminals are a frequent occurrence within many businesses, but also concludes that a worrying number of firms are ill equipped to deal with some of the most advanced threats in the current climate.

The Ponemon Institute conducted the research, soliciting responses from over 500 firms. It concluded that although the threat of cyber attack is a perpetual problem, inadequate protection against potential breaches and a general lack of understanding is hindering many firms and resulting in serious damage and data loss.

41 per cent of respondents said that they lacked the means to detect inbound attacks and, as such, could be completely unaware that a covert assault had occurred or was in progress at any given time.

83 per cent said that zero-day attacks and similarly complex cyber tactics had been aimed at their systems in the recent past. Over the last 12 months, 71 per cent of respondents said that they had actually measured a rise in the number and frequency of such attacks, indicating that the magnitude of the threat is growing year on year.

50 per cent of serious attacks are designed to steal data that is essential to the operation of a business and the remaining half are directly aiming at giving criminals access to the private information of clients and staff serviced by or working within a given firm.

The institute believes that many firms are unable to react quickly when an attack begins, which ultimately makes it easier for the malicious invaders to acquire the data they seek.

80 per cent of respondents said that it takes at least 24 hours for any attack to be flagged and in the worst case scenario, up to a month’s delay was cited by 48 per cent of this group.

It is believed that a combination of technological shortcomings and minimal training are the main contributors to this delay. Only a quarter of respondents said that they possess the necessary contingencies and experts internally to tackle the threat of cyber attacks, whilst almost a third said that their security systems are adequate, suggesting that a large proportion of firms are leaving themselves open.

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