James Steidl - Fotolia

Business leaders expect suppliers to ensure they are cyber secure

Most UK business leaders expect suppliers to be cyber secure and nearly a third of businesses would terminate contracts because of suppliers’ security failings, a survey has revealed

Some 31% of UK businesses would terminate contracts with suppliers whose negligence caused them to become a victim of cyber crime, according to a survey published by business internet service provider Beaming.

The research, conducted by consultancy Opinium, revealed that most UK business leaders polled believe their suppliers are obligated to ensure they do not expose them to unnecessary cyber security risks.

One in five (17%) would take legal action to recover financial losses incurred from a breach as a result of a supplier’s negligence, and a similar number (20%) would use the incident to negotiate a further discount. Just 3% of businesses said they would take no action.

The survey also showed that victims of cyber crime could find it more difficult to attract new customers, with 35% of the business leaders questioned saying they would not work with a supplier they thought would make them more vulnerable to cyber crime, while just over a quarter (27%) said they would avoid using a company that had been publicly associated with a major cyber security breach.

A quarter of those questioned said they would not work with companies that did not have a documented cyber security policy in place, a quarter said they would not work with a supplier that had not met any information security certifications, such as ISO27001 or Cyber Essentials, and one in five (19%) said they would avoid potential suppliers that had no cyber security insurance.

The research showed that small businesses are most at risk of damaging their reputation and business relationships by neglecting their cyber security obligations. Of the firms surveyed that employ between 10 and 49 people, just over half (51%) had a documented cyber security policy and one-third (38%) had insurance in place for breaches and data theft at the beginning of 2018.

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Meanwhile, only half (51%) of businesses employing fewer than 10 people were using a network perimeter firewall to stop threats from reaching their systems, and just one in three (30%) had intrusion detection systems to spot malicious activities or cyber security policy violations.

Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming, said cyber attackers often seek to infiltrate one organisation as a stepping stone to attack others.

“This research clearly shows that business leaders see cyber security as a shared responsibility,” she said. “Businesses that neglect to take the steps necessary to protect themselves and their partners could find that a single breach could irreparably damage their hard-earned reputations and relationships.”

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According to Blizzard, consideration of risk must extend beyond businesses’ own boundaries to incorporate customers, partners and other organisations they come into contact with.

“Rather than simply guarding what is ours, we need a cyber security culture that means we all look out for those we do business with too,” she said. “If enough businesses are well secured, the ability for denial of service attacks, viruses and other attacks to spread will be greatly diminished.”

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