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Survey shows cyber attacks on public sector on the rise

20/11/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

A majority of senior IT people in the public sector have seen an increase in the number of cyber security incidents over the past two years, according to a new survey.

'Cyber Attack' amid computer code

Cyber security company Sophos has included the results from a survey, carried out by Sapio Research in September and including 420 people in senior management roles, that showed most were ready to acknowledge that incidents had taken place.

Of those responding, 75% said their organisation had been subject to an increase in the number of security incidents over the past two years, with 70% saying there has been a rise in the number of breaches. Along with this, 76% acknowledged having experienced a ransomware attack over the past year.

In response, 75% said that data security had moved higher up their organisation’s agenda.

Need for data

Jonathan Lee, UK director of public sector relations at Sophos pointed to a need for clear and accurate data on cyber threats and attempted attacks, with products that can be centrally managed and easy to use.

“The kind of data held by public sector organizations could cause extensive harm if exposed to cyber attackers,” he said.

“Sensitive data for up to 66 million UK citizens could become available to the highest bidder on the dark web or among other criminal groups that buy and sells personally identifiable information like names, addresses, national insurance numbers, tax returns, confidential medical records, passport details, and more. Cyber criminals can then use this data for spear phishing, identity theft, breaching networks, or extortion.”

The survey took IT professionals who work primarily in central or local government, the NHS and education.

Image from iStock, Matej Moderjc

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