British firms in ‘arms race’ to combat cyber-crime says study

British companies are being urged to double down on efforts to fight cybercrime

British firms have been urged to up the offensive on cyber-crime, with a study from BT and KPMG saying that businesses are in an “arms race” with criminals over the threat of digital attacks.

The report urges UK companies to work more closely with legal authorities as well as partners in the cyber security marketplace in order to stave off threats from “sophisticated” gangs.

According to the study, 97 per cent of firms have suffered a cyber-attack, but only a fifth of technology chiefs at those firms felt “fully prepared” to deal with organised cyber-crime.

"The industry is now in an arms race with professional criminal gangs and state entities with sophisticated tradecraft. The 21st-century cyber criminal is a ruthless and efficient entrepreneur, supported by a highly developed and rapidly evolving black market,” said BT security chief Mark Hughes.

"With cyber-crime continuing to escalate, a new approach to digital risk is needed - and that means putting yourself in the shoes of attackers. Businesses need to not only defend against cyber-attacks, but also disrupt the criminal organisations that launch those attacks.

"They should certainly work closer with law enforcement as well as partners in the cyber security marketplace."

BT has recently bulked up its digital security offering, announcing the decision to hire 900 people to add to its 2500-strong security division to cope with growing demand. Revenues from this area of its business have increased at the rate of more than 10 per cent per year over the past few years.

There have been several high profile hacks over the past twelve months, most notably on telecoms firm TalkTalk which saw 160,000 of its customers personal financial details being leaked online last October.

The brand’s profits slumped as a result, with TalkTalk losing 101,000 subscribers in the third quarter of 2015.

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Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering international events like Ad Week Europe, Dmexco and Ciclope.

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