Home Leeds Cyber-attacks cost Leeds’ economy £57 million in 2016

Cyber-attacks cost Leeds’ economy £57 million in 2016

Last year saw a surge in global companies including Yahoo, social giant LinkedIn and even the administration team of American presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton, suffered reputational damage due to significant IT hacks. However, it seems that Leeds’ businesses also took a hit, with almost two thirds (62%) being targeted by hackers in the last 12 months, costing the local economy £57 million.

A new study carried out by office technology specialists, Altodigital to better understand the impact of security breaches on UK business, has revealed that firms are seriously compromising their confidential data, and unknowingly committing security violations because of a lack of knowledge of their IT systems and document security.

The study findings have been compared to a similar Altodigital study carried out in 2013 to discover how far UK businesses have developed in terms of office security.

Shockingly, these hacks equated to a colossal five to seven days of downtime for UK business, with a huge 69% of staff members affected. When analysing Leeds’ most common sins when it comes to security breaches, the study revealed there’s still a long way to go.

The biggest faux pas are:

  • Companies not having a firewall (up to 40% from 22% in 2013)
  • Failing to change old passwords (up to 54% from 35% in 2013)
  • Not protecting data stored on printers or photocopiers at all (76%)

Unsurprisingly, the primary reason for IT hacks on Leeds’ businesses in 2016 was phishing emails – when fraudsters attempt to obtain sensitive information for malicious reasons. 13% of those questioned have also experienced a hack via their telecoms systems, with the most common methods being via remote voice mail access (43%), remote programming (52%) and IP phones (47%).

When it comes to scanning or photocopying documents, 52% of Leeds’ businesses admit to regularly processing highly confidential documents such as birth certificates (42%), client confidential documents (29%) and even company insurance documents (21%), yet an overwhelming 72% are unaware that a photocopier will store every single document that it scans – a serious hacking risk when connected to a company network.

When asked about the barriers to investing in a sophisticated security strategy, 56% of companies said it’s too expensive (49% in 2013), 62% stated that it’s too time consuming (25% in 2013) and 62% even mentioned that it’s just too confusing (14% in 2013). It’s not all bad news though, only 27% of UK employees admitted that there’s a lack of concern at management level to invest in a reliable security infrastructure – a large reduction from 2013, when it was a more significant 38%.

Even more positive is the result that an impressive 81% of IT Directors questioned revealed that they always wipe their internal hard drive before getting rid of obsolete printers, a 29% increase from 2013.

Alistair Millar, Marketing Manager at Altodigital, said: “Although UK businesses still have a long way to go in terms of security in the office, especially concerning simple elements like firewalls and changing passwords, it’s very positive to see that the amount of hacks has decreased significantly and a huge majority of UK IT directors always wipe their internal hard drives before disposing of them.

We hope that businesses will continue to improve their office tech security, through simple precautions such as changing passwords, password protecting data and installing a simple security system so in another four years, the results will be even more positive!”