By Cristina Jerney

FinEdge News:

5 OF THE UK'S BIGGEST CYBER ATTACKS

Alarmingly, government figures published earlier this year (March 2022) show 39 per cent of UK businesses reported a cyber attack over the past 12 months. Of those companies that lost money, the average cost was £4,200. However, when you narrow the statistics down to medium or large businesses, the figure rises to £19,400. And that’s not counting all the unreported cyber attacks.

Should you be worried?  Well, yes, you probably should because the effects of cyber attacks on businesses in the UK can be far-reaching.  Not only can they result in the collapse of IT systems, leakage of customer data and identity theft, they can also cause devastating harm to your company’s reputation.  A major security breach can even affect your company’s share price.

It’s no wonder then that we’re seeing an increasing number of British business-owners turning to specialised cyber insurance policies. If your company holds sensitive data on customers or relies heavily on IT systems, cyber insurance might be a GOOD IDEA for you. Need more food for thought? Here, we take a look at some of the worst cyber attacks in UK history.

In September 2018, a major data breach took place at the UK’s second largest airline, British Airways.

BRITISH AIRWAYS

NUMBER 1

Hackers were able to access the financial and personal details of more than half a million people from BA’s IT system by redirecting customers to a fake website.

After investigation, it turned out the airline’s online systems had been compromised for more than two weeks. The event prompted an inquiry by the National Crime Agency and led to BA being fined a whopping £183million, which was only reduced – to £20 million – after the company experienced significant financial difficulties caused by the Covid epidemic.

Over a series of days in October 2015, multiple cyber attacks took place on TalkTalk’s customer database.

TALKTALK

NUMBER 2

The hacks resulted in the loss of sensitive data (including bank account details) belonging to 157,000 customers.

Eventually, it came to light that the mobile phone provider was using outdated software – extremely embarrassing for a tech company. As well as a humiliating public dressing down, TalkTalk received a fine of £400,000 for its lacklustre cyber security.

In an unprecedented breach of data, it transpired that more than 200,000 customers using Teletext Holidays to book their get-aways had their details exposed to hackers for months on end.

TELETEXT HOLIDAYS

nUMBER 3

It was reported that audio files from phone calls made by customers to a call centre in India went unprotected on a server for what could have been up to three years.

As well as details pertaining to holidays such as logistics, flight numbers and costs, the call recordings, which took place between April and August 2016, also included personal data such as email addresses, phone numbers and bankcard details. The company ceased trading in October 2021.

The parenting website Mumsnet experienced a sinister cyber attack in 2015 when co-founder Justine Roberts became a direct target.

MUMSNET

nUMBER 4

Police officers arrived at her house with weapons after being informed there was someone in her property with a gun. As a result of the hoax call, criminally known as ‘swatting’, Mumsnet’s servers were inundated by a surge of requests which led to the site going down.

A group of people using the Twitter handle @DadSecurity came forward and admitted to being behind the assault. Their aim? To get Mumsnet offline. Problems associated with the attack went on for several days, but the company has not publicly shared details of how much this cost its business.

Over a 48-hour period in November 2016, cyber attackers netted £2.26million from current account holders at Tesco Bank.

TESCO BANK

NUMBER 5

The Financial Conduct Authority deemed the incident ‘largely avoidable’ and fined Tesco Bank £16.4 million for failing to protect its customers.

The attack led to Tesco Bank revising its IT systems and devoting ‘significant’ resources to boosting its cyber security.

What are the implications of a cyber attack? (1/2) Any form of personal data, such as email addresses and dates of birth, are priceless for cybercriminals because they can use the information to carry out identity fraud, phishing (sending emails purporting to be from reputable company to trick someone into handing over passwords or credit card details) or a targeted email attack.

What are the implications of a cyber attack? (2/2) Other types of data attack, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, can cause your company website, call centres or business operations to fail for hours or days. Ransomware, malware and viruses are also on the rise.

What can I do to protect my business from a cyber attack? (1/2) If you’re asking yourself, ‘how can I prevent cyber attacks on my business’, then you should invest in the best quality IT infrastructure and cyber security systems your company can afford and keep it updated. But business needs mean you’ll need to balance budgets and the practicality of your business with security needs.

What can I do to protect my business from a cyber attack? (2/2) And even with the best cyber security in the world, determined criminals can still find a way in. That’s why the relatively small investment in cyber business insurance should form part of your defense.

What does cyber insurance cover? Cyber insurance, also known as cyber liability insurance, covers losses relating to loss of information from IT systems and computer networks. Most policies include quick-reaction assistance at the time of the cyber incident itself to help minimise fall-out, such as business interruption and reputational damage. And, depending on the policy, cyber insurance can help with third-party issues too.

Should I get cyber insurance for my business? Cyber crime isn’t going away. In this digital age, almost every day, another data breach, hack or other cyber attack is reported in the news. That’s why 77 per cent of UK organisations now have some form of cyber security insurance. If you’re a business owner and you rely on any form of electronic data or handle sensitive customer data, you need cyber insurance.

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