Just 4% of UK businesses fully confident in their IT security functions

Cyber attacks are the number one threat to UK businesses

Ninety-six percent of UK businesses fear that their information security functions do not fully meet their needs, a survey from consultancy EY has revealed.

This is despite the majority (66 percent) of UK firms reporting an increase of at least five percent in security incidents within their organisation over the last 12 months, EY's 'Global Information Security Survey 2013: Under cyber-attack' found. EY surveyed more than 1,900 CIOs, CISOs, CFOs, CEOs and other information security executives across all major industries in 64 countries.

Budget constraints (69 percent) and a lack of skills (66 percent) were cited as the main challenges that hinder UK firms' fight against cyber threats. Just a quarter of respondents plan to increase their budget by five percent or more in the next 12 months to invest in innovative security solutions.

Mark Brown, information security director at EY, said: "This year's results show that while businesses are faced with a rising number of security breaches, budget constraints and talent shortages mean that they fail to put in place those systems that match their needs.

"As a result, for UK businesses, this is no longer an issue of whether they will be attacked. The reality is that organisations need to now focus their efforts on determining when the attack took place and identifying that they fell victim to the cyber threat in the first place."

Although the survey found that the majority of organisations (62 percent) felt they had executive support in IT security issues, this still left over a quarter (28 percent) who cited lack of executive awareness or support as a barrier.

Meanwhile, while the lack of skilled talent is a global issue, Brown said that the problem is "particularly acute" in the UK, "where government and companies are fiercely competing to recruit the brightest talent to their teams from a very small pool".

For example, the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) recently launched a campaign to recruit up to 400 trainee cyber and intelligence officers.

"Organisations must undertake more proactive thinking, with tone-from-the-top support," said Brown.

"Greater emphasis on improving employee awareness, increasing budgets and devoting more resources to innovating security solutions is needed."

He added: "The pace of technology evolution will only accelerate - as will the cyber risks and by not considering risks until they arise gives cyber attackers the advantage, jeopardising an organisation's survival."

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