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Only 56% of UK firms believe they have sufficient cyber security skills in-house to deal with threats, a survey has revealed.
UK organisations are concerned about their abilities to keep pace with the persistent rise of new cyber security challenges, according to the latest annual Data health check survey by business continuity and IT disaster recovery firm Databarracks.
Now in its 10th year, the survey questions more than 400 IT decision-makers in the UK about a series of critical issues relating to their IT, security and business continuity practices.
The latest survey shows that 44% of the companies polled lack confidence in their cyber defence capabilities, despite 67% saying they had invested in safeguards to help fight against cyber threats in the past 12 months – up from just 59% in 2016.
The survey shows that the types of safeguard that organisations have invested in to protect against cyber threats have changed dramatically in recent years.
In 2016, only 12% of organisations said they had updated their cyber security policy in the past 12 months, compared with 26% in 2018. Similarly, cyber threat monitoring software is now used in 28% of businesses, compared with only 13% in 2016.
Because of increasing digitisation, the number of businesses protecting more than 100TB of data has more than doubled in the past 10 years, the survey shows, with 16% of the 2018 respondents admitting they do not know how much data they are protecting.
Although the proportion of organisations encrypting backup data has increased from 53% to 67% in the past decade, one-third still do not encrypt their backups.
The survey also shows that the employment of a chief information security officer (CISO) has jumped from 1% in 2016 to 14% in 2018.
Peter Groucutt, managing director of Databarracks, said investment in cyber security safeguards should translate into improved confidence, but the findings show it is yet to make a significant difference.
“We are in the midst of a rapidly accelerating arms race,” he said. “Organisations are desperately trying to match criminals by working hard to improve knowledge, training and investment in security defences, but are clearly concerned about keeping pace.”
But it is important that organisation do not become disheartened, said Groucutt. “While confidence levels are not where we had hoped, businesses are making positive strides and acting on the front foot to fight back, which makes us optimistic for the future,” he said.
“Critically, it is not just about hiring a CISO, or introducing a new cyber security policy or investing in new threat monitoring software – it’s about all of these activities and a fundamental culture change for most organisations.
“Cyber threats are evolving at such a pace that organisations cannot stand still. In previous years, organisations have failed to match these threats with action and investment. Today, businesses are fighting back and shoring up defences, as our data shows.”
The research also revealed that 69% of organisations have reviewed their cyber security policies within the past 12 months, whereas in 2015, only 54% had reviewed their policies.
Budgets are also rising, with 36% of organisations saying they have seen their IT security budget increase in the past 12 months, compared with 24% in 2016. Meanwhile, the proportion of organisations impacted by cyber threats in the past 12 months has dropped from 74% in 2015 to 66% in 2018.
Asked whether they had put additional measures in place in response to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), 36% of organisations said they had, up from just 13% in 2017.
“Over time, as organisations see this increased proactivity and investment lead to better security, we are hopeful that confidence will also improve,” said Groucutt.
The survey also reveals a positive overall trend in disaster recovery, with more rigorous governance, planning and testing, all leading to greater confidence.
The proportion of companies with an IT disaster recovery plan within their business continuity plan has increased from 79% in 2016 to 82% in 2018, while those testing their disaster recovery plans has increased from 42% in 47%.