88% of UK businesses breached during the last 12 months

The UK’s cyber threat environment is intensifying. Attacks are growing in volume, and the average number of breaches has increased, according to Carbon Black.

uk breaches increasing

Key survey research findings:

  • 88% of UK organizations reported suffering a breach in the last 12 months
  • The average number of breaches per organization over the past year was 3.67
  • 87% of organizations have seen an increase in attack volumes
  • 89% of organizations say attacks have become more sophisticated
  • 93% of organizations plan to increase spending on cyber defence

Compared with the previous report, published in September, the average number of breaches has increased from 3.48 to 3.67. More than 5% of organizations have seen an increase in attack volumes.

100% of Government and Local Authority organizations surveyed reported being breached in the past 12 months, suffering 4.65 breaches, on average. 40% have been breached more than five times. In the private sector, the survey indicates that Financial Services are the most likely to report a breach, with 98% of the surveyed companies reporting breaches during the past 12 months.

“We believe our second UK threat report underlines that UK organizations are still under intense pressure from escalating cyberattacks,” said Rick McElroy, Head of Security Strategy for Carbon Black. “The report suggests that the average number of breaches has increased, but as threat hunting strategies start to mature, we hope to see fewer attacks making it to full breach status.”

The weakest link in cybersecurity: humans

According to the report, malware remains the most prolific attack type in the UK, with more than a quarter (27%) of organizations naming it the most commonly encountered. Ransomware holds second position (15%). However, the human factor plays a part in the attacks resulting in breaches.

Phishing attacks appear to be at the root of one in five successful breaches. Combined, weaknesses in processes and outdated security technology were reported factors in a quarter of breaches, indicating that failures in basic security hygiene continue to be high risk vectors that organizations should address as a priority.

Cyber defence investment increases in the face of increasing attack volumes

Organizations across all sectors reported increases in the volume of attacks during the past 12 months. However, of the organizations surveyed Government and Local Authority organizations saw particularly high increases, with 40% noting more than 50% increase in the number of attacks. Similarly, in Healthcare, 29% of respondents noted increases of 50% or more.

A silver lining here is that 6% more of the organizations plan to increase cybersecurity spending compared to six months ago.

Threat hunting is delivering on its promise

60% of UK organizations surveyed said they are actively threat hunting and more than a quarter (26%) have been doing so for a year or more. A very encouraging 95% reported that threat hunting has strengthened their defences. The survey results suggest that threat hunting is most mature in the financial services sector, with 53% threat hunting for more than a year.

“We believe threat hunting is an integral part of a mature security posture,” McElroy said. “It’s encouraging to see this numbers continuing to climb.”