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UK businesses braced for cyber attacks

But many feel confident they can withstand an attack

By Steve Evans

Anonymous hacktivists

UK businesses are braced for increased cyber attacks over the next few years, according to new research.

The Detica study, called "Business and The Cyber Threat: Curiously Confident?" found that 85% of UK business expect an increase in cyber attacks over the next few years, which is not surprising given the number of headline-grabbing attacks that have taken place recently.

A small number (6%) of respondents said they expect the number of cyber attacks will remain constant and only 4% believe it will decrease.

It seems that reality is beginning to strike for many businesses regarding how prepared they are to cope with a cyber attack. The number of responses claiming to be "very confident" they could withstand an attack dropped from 34% in 2010 to 22% this year.

The total number of respondents believing they are "very" or "fairly" confident of withstanding a cyber attack totalled 89%, down slightly from 94% in the 2010 study.

This confidence could well be misplaced, as the number of high profile victims of cyber attacks suggests not many businesses have the right infrastructure in place to cope. It also goes against the warnings of many security industry experts that have claimed many UK businesses are woefully ill-prepared to deal with cyber attacks.

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The research was carried out to mark six months since the government launched its Cyber Security Strategy, and it seems that many UK organisations feel engagement with the government is a good step to improving security.

A quarter of those questioned said they were already talking to the government while another 49% want to be involved. Only 9% said they had no interest in engaging with the government on cyber security issues.

However while many thought government involvement was a good thing, it seems UK organisations still have concerns over state sponsored cyber attacks.

Nearly 30% of respondents said state sponsored spies were likely to mount a targeted attack and of those concerned about industrial espionage (43%), more than half (56%) are worried about state sponsored spies.

"2011 has clearly led businesses to re-evaluate the level of cyber threat and impact, but it seems they are slower to recognise their true level of vulnerability," said Henry Harrison, technical director at BAE Systems Detica.

"However, raised awareness about cyber risk has increased the private sector’s desire for collaboration with the Government to formulate new responses to this rapidly growing challenge. Given the remaining scepticism about the level of vulnerability to the threats businesses face, there is a clear incentive for government to step-up its cyber security efforts in this area," he added.

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