Procurement · 15 May 2017

Business owners unaware of government cyber security services

The WannaCry ransomware attack is thought to have affected 200,000 computers
The WannaCry ransomware attack is thought to have affected 200,000 computers

Company owners in the UK remain mostly unaware of the government cyber security services available to them, that could prove crucial in defence against cyber attack, a new survey has revealed.

New research from the London Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) found that just 13 per cent of company owners in the UK capital had used any of the government’s eight different services to help protect against online attack.

In the case of each government-backed scheme, at least 65 per cent of respondent business owners weren’t aware of its existence, with the highest uptake of any service amongst businesses being nine per cent, in the case of Action Fraud.

The results of the LCC survey, carried out amongst over 500 London business owners, were published following the most recent ransomware cyber attacks that have wreaked havoc on thousands of UK businesses, including the NHS, this month.

More than 200,000 computers, in around 150 countries, are thought to have been affected by the so-called WannaCry ransomware virus, which takes over control of users’ files and demands a £230 “ransom” to give back access.

It experts have said that lack of awareness amongst owners about the proper ways to protect businesses online have made attacks like WannaCry more likely. Warning company owners, managing director at London IT experts Fitzrovia, Daren Oliver, said: “Simply updating software is not enough.

“Every business is at risk of a cyberattack however it’s how companies mitigate the risk which is key. The issue isn’t necessarily complacency amongst businesses, but lack of awareness, levels of investment to protect systems and regular reviews of cybersecurity policies and procedures.”

To protect London’s firms from attack, LCC chief executive, Colin Stanbridge, called on mayor Sadiq Khan to raise the profile of the new London Digital Security Centre, which gives cyber security support to growing businesses.

He said: “We need to encourage discussion and share advice so that businesses can continue to grow without feeling under attack from cyber crime.

“Cyber crime is still a relatively unknown quantity and what is quite clear from these findings is that the resources that exist to help business are also unknown.”

In its survey, the LCCI asked business owners whether they were aware of and had used the following schemes: Action Fraud, Cyber Streetwise, Ten Steps to Cyber Security guide, the London Digital Security Centre, the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership, ‘Responsible for Information’ e-learning course, the Cyber Essentials scheme and Innovation vouchers.

How small firms can create an effective cyber security response.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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