UK CTOs, CIOs and CISOs have confidence in security, despite growing threats

CTOs, CIOs and CISOs remain confident in their organisation’s security capabilities, despite a sustained, sophisticated and growing cyber threat environment, where phishing attacks serve as the primary cause of data breaches.

This was the conclusion of Carbon Black’s third UK threat report, based on a survey of 250 CIOs, CTOs and CISOs across the UK.

Key UK research findings:

  • 84% of UK businesses reported suffering a data breach during the past 12 months
  • 84% of UK businesses reported an increase in overall attack volume in the past 12 months
  • 90% of UK businesses said cyberattacks have grown more sophisticated
  • 88% of UK businesses said they have IT security concerns around digital transformation projects and 5G network rollout
  • 76% of UK organisations said they are more confident in their ability to repel cyberattacks than they were 12 months ago
  • 90% of UK businesses said threat hunting has improved their defences
  • 93% of UK businesses said they plan to increase their security budgets over the next year

Rick McElroy, head of security strategy at Carbon Black, commented: “As we analyse the findings of our third UK Threat Report, it appears businesses are adjusting to the ‘new normal’ of sustained and sophisticated cyberattacks. Greater awareness of external threats and compliance risks have also prompted businesses to become more proactive about managing cyber risks as they witness the financial and reputational impacts that breaches entail.”

The UK is more confident in security compared to EU counterparts

Confidence in UK security levels is higher than the rest of businesses within other EU countries, according to Thales’ 2019 Data Threat Report. Read here

Phishing attacks: the main breach source

The latest report from Carbon Black also found a sharp increase in breaches caused by phishing attacks in the UK compared to its prior report, indicating threat actors are targeting the weakest link in the security chain — business users.

The report found that 35% of UK businesses surveyed noted a degree of financial damage associated with breaches, with 9% saying the damage was severe. In contrast, 72% said they suffered damage to their corporate reputation, with 13% saying it was severe and only 24% saying there was no impact at all.

And yet…

UK CTO, CIO and CISO defender confidence is on the rise

Participating UK businesses reported feeling more confident in their ability to repel cyber attacks than they did 12 months ago — 47% said they feel a little more confident, while 29% said they feel a lot more confident.

McElroy explained: “As the cyber defence sector continues to mature, businesses are becoming more aware of the tools at their disposal and the tactics they can use to combat cyberattacks. We believe this growing confidence is indicative of a power shift in favour of defenders, who are taking a more proactive approach to hunting out and neutralising threats than previously.”

This is underlined by the 90% of UK businesses surveyed who reported seeing their defence strengthened through threat hunting and 78% who found evidence of malicious cyber attack activity during hunting exercises. Recognition of cyber security investment benefits is further supported by the fact that 93% of UK businesses surveyed said they planned to increase cyber security budgets in the next 12 months.

There remains concerns, of course; namely surrounding digital transformation, 5G rollout and cyber skills shortages.

When asked about the security around the implementation and management of digital transformation programmes and 5G rollout, only 11% of UK respondents said they had no concerns, while 38% predicted it would offer more effective and destructive methods of cyber attacks.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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UK Cyber Security