COVID-19 prompts shift in cyber security strategy for UK businesses

The increasing sophistication of cyber criminals, coupled with the rapid shift to digital technologies brought about by the coronavirus pandemic has reinforced awareness of the importance of cyber security according to a survey by PwC.

96% of UK respondents said that they will shift their cyber security strategy due to COVID-19, with half now saying they are more likely to consider cyber security in every business decision. In addition, a third of UK respondents (34%) plan to accelerate their digitalisation plans due to COVID-19.

When asked what they saw as being the most likely cyber events to impact their industry over the next 12 months, 58% of UK respondents cited an attack on cloud services, followed by a disruptionware attack on critical business services (52%) and a ransomware attack (50%).

Globally, PwC’s research showed that the strategic focus on cyber security will lead to a more prominent role for the chief information security officer (CISO). Two-fifths (43%) of global respondents agree that there will be more frequent interactions between the CISO and CEO or board, but this falls to 34% in the UK.

The research also found that a majority of organisations lack confidence in their cyber spend, with just 38% of UK respondents being very confident their cyber budget is allocated to the most significant cyber risks, compared to 44% globally. Similarly, only 36% of UK respondents are very confident they are getting the best return on their cyber spend versus 42% globally. Despite this, 56% of UK respondents are planning to increase their cyber budgets in 2021.

Richard Horne, cyber security chair at PwC, said: “It's surprising that so many organisations lack confidence in their cyber security spend. It shows businesses need to improve their understanding of cyber threats and the vulnerabilities they exploit, while changing the way they think about cyber risk so it becomes an intrinsic part of every business decision.”

The PwC findings are based on a survey of 3,249 business and technology executives from around the world, including 265 in the UK.

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