A new vulnerability called Cloudbleed may have put sensitive data of a large amount of Internet users at risk

One in five British businesses cyber hacked in last year alone

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Cyber criminals have hacked one in five British businesses in the past year, according to new research.

Larger companies, defined as those with at least 100 staff, are more susceptible to cyber-attacks, according to the survey of 1,200 businesses by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

Its report found 42 per cent of big businesses had fallen victim to cybercrime, compared with 18 per cent of small companies.

Only a quarter of respondents said their business had security measures in place to guard against hacking.

Adam Marshall, BCC director-general, said: “Cyber-attacks risk companies’ finances, confidence and reputation, with victims reporting not only monetary losses, but costs from disruption to their business and productivity.

“While firms of all sizes, from major corporations to one-man operations, fall prey to attacks, our evidence shows that large companies are more likely to experience them.

“Firms need to be proactive about protecting themselves from cyber-attacks.

“Security accreditations can help businesses assess their own IT infrastructure, defend against cyber-security breaches and mitigate the damage caused by an attack. It can also increase confidence among the businesses and clients who they engage with online.

“Businesses should also be mindful of the extension to data protection regulation coming into force next year, which will increase their responsibilities and requirements to protect personal data. Firms that don’t adopt the appropriate protections leave themselves open to tough penalties.

“Companies are reporting a reliance on IT support providers to resolve cyber-attacks.

“More guidance from government and police about where and how to report attacks would provide businesses with a clear path to follow in the event of a cyber-security breach and increase clarity around the response options available to victims, which would help minimise the occurrence of cyber-crime.”

Web giant Yahoo, telecoms firm TalkTalk and controversial dating website Ashley Madison are among the high-profile businesses to have been subject to cyber-attacks in recent years.

A Government spokesman said: “We are investing £1.9bn to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online and recently established the National Cyber Security Centre to work with industry to protect the UK from cyber attacks.

“It’s essential businesses take responsibility for their cyber security risks and we urge them to take advantage of our free advice, online training and Cyber Essentials scheme to protect against attacks.”

In February a study found that UK organisations have a distorted understanding of cyber-security risks and their ability to fight them, with many unwilling to disclose breaches. 

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