70% of UK finance industry hit with cyber-attacks in 2020

50% of UK finance companies say they don't have adequate cyber-incident response plans in place. Photo: Getty Images
50% of UK finance companies say they don't have adequate cyber-incident response plans in place. Photo: Getty Images

The “double whammy” of the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit meant that UK financial services companies were particularly vulnerable to cyber-attacks in 2020, new data revealed.

A report by research centre Ponemon Institute, commissioned by password manager Keeper Security, revealed that 70% of UK financial firms suffered a cyber-attack in 2020 and warned that this trend can have “disastrous consequences” if left unchecked.

Some 59% of these attacks were exacerbated by the fact that COVID-19 had meant a mass shift to working away from the office. This has provided a prime opportunity for cyber-attackers to access sensitive information in remote environments, the report said.

Some 41% of finance bosses feel remote workers are putting the business at risk of a major data breach.

The increased use of personal devices by employees, often without sufficient guidance, means sensitive information is being accessed using platforms unprotected by enterprise security infrastructure.

The use of personal devices has left much of the finance industry feeling vulnerable, with 70% claiming their use has hindered business security.

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However, despite this, half (50%) of UK finance companies say they still don't have adequate response plans in place.

“The adjustments to life as we know it due to COVID-19, and the limitations set to be imposed by Brexit, have seen businesses struggle adopt essential operational requirements to stay afloat,” explained Darren Guccione, CEO and co-founder of Keeper Security.

“The UK finance industry needs to be especially cautious, given that the wealth of data it possesses is lucrative for cyber-attackers on the dark web. With the pandemic already throwing the sector into disarray, business leaders need to act fast and take their online security seriously,” he added.

Guccione believes a strong stance is needed within the finance sector around passwords to ensure all devices within the organisation are secure.

And a reliable security infrastructure is “more crucial than ever” as UK financial service providers battle for business without access to the EU’s single market for the services industry in the wake of Brexit.

“Without rigorous security in place, financial institutions across the UK jeopardise their future. It only takes one cyberattack to destroy the reputation of the entire business,” warned Guccione.

Back in September, a report found nearly two in five UK employees could inadvertently be putting their employers at risk of a cyber-attack while working at home, due to a lack of company-supplied information on the related risks.

Of Brits who are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, 38% have not received any information about cyber-security risks from their employer, a survey by insurance broker Marsh Commercial found.

What’s more, a report from October found that cyber security is one of the most challenging issues for business owners, with each data breach costing companies about $3.9m (£3m).

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