Future Data Breach Threats to UK Businesses

TransUnion’s latest research reveals the extent of the problem today – showing that individual organisations are fighting off more than 500 cyberattacks yearly and spending an average of £600K annually on protection, defence and response to cyber threats.

The consequences of a data breach can be significant and long-lasting. However, financial loss is just the tip of the iceberg – businesses can also suffer from diminished trust and loss of customer loyalty, leading to a decline in sales and a longer-term impact on their bottom line.

So, how can organisations prepare to protect themselves and their customers? And what does the future hold for data breach threats?

Addressing the most prevalent threats

Our report revealed that phishing is seen as the most likely data breach risk in the coming years by nearly half (47%) of UK businesses.

Rather than focusing on a particular target, basic phishing casts a vast net by using tools such as emails with malicious attachments, social media messages, SMS, phone calls, and even creating fake websites for companies and organisations.

Another critical concern for businesses in all sectors is the rise of hybrid and remote working. With more employees working from home, there is a lower level of oversight on security, making it easier for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities. This lack of physical security and on-site expertise, coupled with the rise of remote access to company networks and data, makes companies more susceptible to cyber-attacks when they move towards a hybrid or remote workforce.

Linked to the rise of hybrid working, our increased reliance on cloud-based infrastructure to collaborate and communicate was named as a top future risk by 35% of IT professionals. While cloud computing has many benefits, such as increased flexibility, improved scalability and cost-effectiveness, the centralised nature of cloud systems makes them a prime target for cybercriminals looking to gain access to sensitive information.

IoT (Internet of Things) devices and networking were also cited as a concern over the next five years by a third (33%) of IT professionals. These devices, such as smart sensors, vehicles, and industrial equipment, are becoming increasingly prevalent in homes and offices.

Worryingly, some may need more proper security measures, making them easy targets for hackers. The same devices can also be used to launch attacks on other parts of an organisation’s network, compromising sensitive information and disrupting essential business operations.

The potential for human error

Human error will likely remain a significant factor in multiple data breaches. A simple mistake, such as an employee inadvertently sharing sensitive information, can have severe consequences for a company and its customers.

To help mitigate risks, businesses of all sizes should focus on employee education and awareness. Regular training on security best practices and simulated phishing exercises can help employees identify and resist social engineering attacks, such as clicking on malicious “forgot password” buttons on websites when logging in.

Creating and maintaining a security culture within an organisation helps employees understand the importance of safety and are motivated to take the necessary steps to protect sensitive information. In addition, it’s essential that staff at all levels – and from all departments – understand the possible consequences of data breaches.

Protecting against data breaches

Of course, it’s impossible to predict everything that the future holds for data breach threats. However, by understanding the potential risks and taking steps to protect against them, businesses can minimise the impact of a data breach and retain the trust of their customers.

Central to responding to potential threats is having a robust incident response plan that addresses the potential for human error and technological factors. This plan should include procedures for identifying and responding to security breaches and measures for notifying customers and protecting their data.

Regular security audits and risk assessments are essential in helping to identify and mitigate potential security vulnerabilities before they are exploited. Additionally, offering consumers tools like TransUnion’s TrueIdentity to get credit information, alerts, and dark web monitoring can empower them to spot potentially fraudulent activity and safeguard their identity during a data breach.

Finally, businesses must consider the reputational impact of a data breach which can significantly damage trust amongst a customer base. But, by taking proactive measures to secure sensitive information and being transparent about the steps taken in the event of a breach, companies can maintain the trust and confidence of their valued customers.

Mark Read, head of data breach solutions at TransUnion in the UK.

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