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£50,000 is Not Enough To Ensure Security Confidence in the Financial World

Nearly one in four (23 per cent) businesses think their cybersecurity budget is too small to truly protect them from growing cyber threats, reveals iomart and Oxford Economics. This is despite the fact over a third of financial organisations spend more than £50,000 on cyber protection a year. 

In its report of 500 UK businesses – most with more than 1,000 employees – titled State of Cyber Security in the UK 2023 iomart reveals that on average, the finance sector has been targeted seven more than others with each company experiencing 32 incidents per year.

When it comes to security preparations, 25 per cent of businesses agree that budget constraints are a barrier to ensuring optimal protection. This comes as 46 per cent have seen an increased frequency of threats from bad actors over the past two years.

In fact, the rising cost of cyber insurance premiums is one of the biggest financial outlays, with 73% of finance businesses noting a rise over the last two years.

With the cost of remediation and other business expenses, such as energy, on the rise, stretched budgets are causing blind spots in companies’ cyber strategies.

Lucy Dimes, CEO of iomart
Lucy Dimes, CEO of iomart

Commenting on the report, Lucy Dimes, CEO of iomart said: “Our latest security report with Oxford Economics is a temperature check on the cyber challenges businesses face, including those in the finance sector.

“We are living in an increasingly digitised world, where it is commonplace to use our devices for financial transactions. Given the financial sector’s wide reach into the lives of businesses and consumers across the UK, it is perhaps no surprise that it has become a target for cybercriminals. And while it is clear that the threat of cybercrime is rising, there’s a lack of confidence in organisations’ abilities to protect themselves against it.

UK businesses overall

Of the 500 businesses surveyed, only 37 per cent of respondents have security embedded into all their business processes and functions. Meanwhile, 14 per cent admitted that security is only addressed on an ad hoc or as-needed basis.

Meanwhile during the COVID-19 pandemic, 41 per cent of organisations were forced to sacrifice cybersecurity to keep the lights on, including 39 per cent of finance businesses.

The report also found that a lack of key skills remains one of the main concerns in tackling rising cyber threats. So much so that 30 per cent of cyber staff admit to currently facing burnout.

This pressure also means that less than half of companies are confident in their ability to handle the biggest threats facing organisations, including phishing (56 per cent) and malware (55 per cent).

Emerging technologies

Despite these challenges, the finance sector is optimistic about the role of nascent technologies such as AI and ML.

A third (33 per cent) of believe the use of AI and ML will be a major trend in cyber security over the next two years, particularly to support with email screening (58 per cent) and contextual analytics (52 per cent).

Dimes adds: “There are many factors at play that are influencing the growth of cybercrime. From rising energy costs and increased insurance premiums to skills shortages and staff burnout, which are causing huge challenges for businesses.

“While this may be the case, there are ways to relieve these pressures, with effective strategies being developed and new technologies such as AI being embraced. Working alongside trusted partners can also ensure companies have adequate cyber strategies tailored to their business needs and challenges.”

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