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UK must strengthen cyber defences to protect economic growth

by Simon Jones Tech Reporter
6th Jun 24 11:34 am

The UK’s fragile cyber defences pose a significant threat to its economic growth, according to recent data from Microsoft.

With a surge in cyberattacks targeting vital sectors like financial services, there is an urgent need for robust cybersecurity measures.

A concerning 65 per cent of senior executives in the UK’s financial services sector believe that inadequate cybersecurity could impede national economic progress. Alarmingly, only 13 per cent of UK organisations are currently deemed resilient to cyber threats.

Recent attacks on NHS hospitals in London and prominent TikTok accounts underscore the escalating sophistication and frequency of cyberattacks.

Cybersecurity experts advocate for the integration of AI to strengthen cyber defences. Data indicates that AI can reduce attack costs by 20 per cent, potentially saving the UK economy £52bn annually.

However, despite these advantages, fewer than one in four financial services businesses have incorporated AI into their cybersecurity strategies.

The global market for AI-based cybersecurity solutions is projected to soar from $15bn in 2021 to $135bn by 2030, emphasising the critical role AI will play in future cyber defence.

Andy Ward, VP International of Absolute Security, said, “The recent spate of high-profile cyber-attacks, highlights the urgent need for robust cyber resilience measures across all sectors, and particularly in financial services. As a critical part of the British economy, the financial sector must prioritise strengthening its defences against these escalating threats.

To protect our economic infrastructure, we must integrate resilience as a central part of cybersecurity strategies, developing a system of proactive defence mechanisms as well as response and recovery protocols. By doing so, we can ensure the financial sector is well-prepared to combat future cyber threats and support sustained economic growth in the UK.”

David Manfield, Associate Director for Cyber Security at Investigo, part of The IN Group, added, “The findings from Microsoft’s latest research underscore the critical importance of bolstering our cyber defences.

“While leveraging AI for advanced cybersecurity is a significant step forward, it’s equally vital to ensure these technologies are implemented safely and effectively, requiring skilled cyber staff to lead defences.”

“Our Tech in the Boardroom research highlighted that cyber is the top priority for executives at the moment, closely followed by AI, and the recent attacks on major organisations and infrastructure show why.

“The integration of AI in cyber defence measures can provide substantial benefits, but it requires a concerted effort to adopt and understand these technologies comprehensively before channelling them into defence strategies. Organisations should prioritise building a roster of cyber experts through recruiting, outsourcing and upskilling to create a resilient cyber posture to ensure they remain protected.”

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