Half of United Kingdom businesses targeted by cyber attacks in a year ago

The government's efforts to help business tackle cyber threats face an uphill struggle, new figures suggest, despite nearly half being hit by a breach or attack in the past year.

"Importantly, the survey demonstrates a high level of ability of organisations to prepare for and recover from cyber threats".

It pointed out that larger firms tend to incur much more substantial costs from cyber security attacks, which it said could reflect the increased complexity of the breaches, or because they have more sophisticated systems that are harder to fix.

Fraudulent emails persuading employees to reveal passwords or financial information were the most common weapon used in cyberattacks.

Security breaches can impact organisations in several different ways, with perhaps the most obvious being the financial cost.

However, the survey also found that businesses lacked awareness about advice that the government offered on cyber security measures - 58% of businesses said they had sought advice in the a year ago, but just 4% mentioned public sector sources.

And some 51pc of all organisations surveyed said that they tend to be alerted to possible cyer breaches by external parties before they detect it themselves.

Of course, not all impacts are material in nature.

"Our challenge now is to learn the lesson from the report, particularly when it comes to small to medium businesses, who often don't have the resources and wherewithal to deal with the persistent cyber threat", Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Cyber Security Dan Tehan said today.

Almost a quarter of those surveyed also admitted to having a temporary loss of files from a breach, whilst a fifth had their systems and software corrupted.

It's clear that enterprises increasingly understand the importance of cybersecurity: Three-quarters of United Kingdom businesses say that cybersecurity is a high priority for their senior management, with 31% saying it is a very high priority.

The ACSC handles key operational elements of the government's cyber security capabilities to enable a more complete understanding of sophisticated cyber threats, facilitate faster and more effective responses to significant cyber incidents, and foster better interaction between government and industry partners.

Cyber-security has become increasingly important for universities in recent years, especially in light of a cyber attack on Queen Mary University of London by the group known as Anonymous in 2014, which led to the theft of internal communications and allegedly student details.

Speaking to Computer Weekly in January this year, one cyber security expert in the United Kingdom banking sector said the speed that a crisis could develop after a cyber attack posed a major challenge.

The March HousingWire Magazine issue also highlighted the growing prominence of cybersecurity breaches, citing that the number of data breaches in 2016 in the United States reached an all-time high of 1,093, a 40% spike over the 780 reported for 2015.

Vanessa Coleman