Are UK Firms Well Prepared to Deal with A Cybersecurity Crisis?

Kunal Sawhney
Kunal Sawhney is founder & CEO at Kalkine.

Data breaches, hacking, and phishing are some of the most common, yet gravest, cybersecurity issues individuals, organisations and countries are facing at present. Cybersecurity threats reached new heights in the year 2020, a year which forced each of us to be at home and scale up our dependency on the internet and online world for our survival.

Emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and 5G have increased the threats and breaches which are more organised and sophisticated, and come from “more tactical” hacker groups. According to internet service provider Beaming, web applications, databases, and file-sharing services are each at risk 10,000 times more than before the pandemic. Also worth noting, is that personal setups are more vulnerable than company-issued or -managed computers. Despite that, companies and firms faced 686,961 cyber attempts to breach their online systems on average – compared to 576,575 attacks in 2019 – making 2020 the busiest year for cyber-attacks.

Common Cyberattacks – Ransomware, Payment Fraud

During the pandemic, the common cyberattacks impacting most users are ransomware attacks and electronic payment fraud. Both breaches happen when there is a compromise to remote access services, like email hacking or unauthorised virtual private network connections using easily guessed or stolen passwords.

Ransomware is a big challenge. Around 48% of UK organisations were reportedly hit by ransomware in 2020, of which 13% of firms paid the ransom. An analysis published by Check Point last year showed that Ryuk and Maze malware are the two most common strains hitting the organisations in the United Kingdom. On average, the successful remediation cost of a ransomware attack can reach approximately US $840,000, which is much higher than the global cost of $761,00.

Cybersecurity Readiness – Expertise and Awareness Remain Low

We can define cybersecurity as a way to protect computer systems from theft or damage to hardware, software, and personal and electronic data. A 2020 report has highlighted, that despite the fact that IT and tech firms in the UK are reaching new heights in terms of technology and innovations, they invest very little into strengthening their cyber defences. A Forrester study of UK and US companies stated that around 38% of firms lost customer accounts and business over security issues.

One of the prominent observations in the report stated that expertise and awareness in cybersecurity remain scarce. Most tech firms in the UK (61%) do not have an in-house expert on cybersecurity or have specific budget to tackle a cybersecurity emergency.

An IBM and Ponemon study stated that on average, UK enterprises cough up $3.88 million per data breach, which makes them vulnerable to losses and customer confidence.

Only one in five UK workers has received formal training on cybersecurity.  Experts feel that an extraordinary situation was created during the lockdown. Remote working and use of unmanaged, unregistered devices – as well as exposure to unlicensed products – have all played a part in heightening the risk of cyber fraud. Budgets have been squeezed due to the pandemic, as firms try to stay afloat in these uncertain times.

Cyber Defense – Awareness is Key

Whether remote working continues in the future or not, cyber risks are here to stay, as most individuals have a strong online presence for different activities. There is a new set of technology and services which can be adopted by companies for cyber defence. Firms can either outsource security services or secure systems with continual attack stimulation tools, secure browsing systems, and others.

The true scale of the threat is still beyond calculation as thousands of systems are unregistered and vulnerable to attacks. Awareness is the key, along with the adoption of new innovative ways to check criminal and phishing activities.


Kunal Sawhney
Kunal Sawhney is founder & CEO at Kalkine.

Kunal Sawhney is founder & CEO at Kalkine. He is a richly experienced and accomplished financial professional with a wealth of knowledge in the Australian Equities Market. Kunal obtained a Master of Business Administration degree from University of Technology, Sydney. He has an extensive expertise in quantitative and qualitative stock selection practices, and he proficiently navigates on equity related matters while enabling them achieve success in complex market conditions. Kunal features as a guest speaker at various equity research platforms and news channels on a regular basis, sharing his valuable insights on the subject. His firm provides holistic view of stock investment recommendations to retail investors with respect to financial performance, strategy, and industry catalysts. The firm looks for stocks that are out of favor with the market and a combination of tangible and intangible aspects is used for stock picking with a great focus on income and growth portfolios. Kunal is featured regularly on CNBC, Sky Business, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, Global Banking and Financial Review and many more.