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Cyber security threats are rising. Why isn't awareness?

If you have not been a victim of cybercrime or a cyber security threat, you’re lucky – but your luck could run out.

In this article, as part of the in[ctrl] series, we shed light on security threats, risks, the need for better training, and the demand for stronger security measures.

If you haven’t been the target of a cyber security breach, you may soon be. Or at least, that’s what the data says.

Since 2020, there’s been a huge surge in cyber security threats* – that’s everything from spoofing and data breaches to hacking and full-scale cyber-attacks. And the threats continue to rise.

So if you’re one of the 69% of respondents to our cyber security survey who hasn’t spotted anything awry, are you just one of the lucky ones? And what caused this rise in the first place?

The pandemic gave cyber criminals the perfect opportunity to target businesses. They took advantage of misaligned networks when working from home becoming the norm. In 2020 alone, malware attacks increased by 358%*.

Even as people returned to their offices, cyber-attacks persisted – with a global increase of 125% in 2021*. Disturbingly, this upward trend shows no signs of slowing down.

But despite the alarming statistics, there’s a big disconnect between perceptions and reality**. Only 17% of businesses reported noticing an increase in cyber security threats.

Maybe it’s luck. Or perhaps businesses simply aren’t spotting the threats they’re being exposed to – sometimes it’s the unseen threats that are the most dangerous.

With over 50% of companies now adopting a flexible, hybrid working model, the vulnerability facing businesses is at an all-time high**. The bigger worry, perhaps, is how few of us are aware of it.

Phishing is one of the cyber attacks that are most on the rise, so we've created a blog to help you learn how to protect yourself and your team from this security threat.

Better cyber security training means stronger resistance to cyber threats

Illustration of a woman sat at a desk, surrounded by icons to represent stronger resistance to cyber threats

Your business is more likely to be the target of a cyber-attack now than ever before. And those odds are increasing all the time.

However, the results of our European survey suggest very few businesses are aware of the growing risk. And yet, 39% of businesses in the UK alone reported suffering cyber-attacks in 2022*.

The issue, perhaps, is that people are simply unaware of what a cyber security threat looks like. This raises big questions about the training they’ve been given – if at all.

Around half of the businesses we surveyed say they’ve had some form of security awareness training – which means half haven’t.

And there are discrepancies between countries across the continent. Businesses in Germany, for example, are more likely to have been given security awareness training (around two-thirds) than in France, where only 37% have**.

The other question it raises is whether the training they’re getting is fit for purpose. The risks are growing exponentially, yet awareness isn’t.

It’s evident that security awareness training for businesses is needed to educate people on the dangers they face, and how to spot any threats. After all, you can’t stop them if you can’t spot them.

We've put together some valuable training tips to keep yourself and your business safe.

Are your colleagues your weakest link in cyber security?

Illustration of security icons surrounding a picture of a man and woman looking at a laptop computer to represent work colleagues as a potential weak link in cyber security

One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to cyber security is thinking they’ll spot a security breach a mile off. They think it’ll be obvious. That they’re too smart to fall for it.

But cyber-attacks are getting more and more sophisticated. There’s a lack of awareness of the tactics being used to breach cyber security, so colleagues aren’t questioning suspicious activity or making informed decisions.

At every juncture, colleagues need to be asking themselves: ‘Should I really be clicking on this?’ and ‘Could this be a phishing scam?’.

However robust your technical setup, the human element remains a critical vulnerability for business security. 82% of security breaches against businesses involve human decision-making*.

But this won’t be news to many IT professionals who took part in our cyber security survey. They called out that too often colleagues don’t understand the threats in front of them**.

Whether it’s colleagues sending passwords in emails, or failing to report suspicious activity, humans are your biggest vulnerability, and your biggest security threat**.

Read more about how to manage your biggest security threat.

Small businesses need more help to tackle cyber threats and phishing attacks

Illustration depicting a security expert helping a small business owner to tackle cyber threats and phishing attacks

What if your business faced a data breach or fell victim to a phishing attack? Would you know what to do?

New global research* reveals that 7 out of 10 small-to-medium-sized businesses lack the knowledge (or the confidence) to handle security threats effectively.

Brother’s in[ctrl] cyber security survey backs this up.

It reveals that while smaller businesses are more likely to have spotted an increase in cybersecurity threats, they’re less likely to know what to do about it. Whether it’s identifying threats or knowing how to respond to them, they feel ill-equipped**.

But help is out there. Security by Brother, for example, helps businesses to get a better understanding of cyber security. From tailored advice to a product security promise, Security by Brother is here to help businesses protect their data and prevent criminals from hacking in and gaining access to their printing networks.

Cybersecurity training is an urgent priority for these three sectors

Illustration depicting cybersecurity training being an urgent priority for the education, healthcare and retail sectors

Three sectors more than any other need to up their cyber security game – and it’s reflected right across Europe: education, healthcare and retail**.

What’s most worrying is that these were three of the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic – and they’re all still grappling with its side effects.

In such adversity, it’s easy to understand why cybersecurity training has fallen down the list of priorities. They’re simply trying to get through each day. But a cyber-attack could be devastating.

And our research tells us the levels of training around education cybersecurity, healthcare cybersecurity, and retail cybersecurity are significantly lower than in other sectors**.

Not surprisingly, IT, finance and professional services have implemented higher levels of cybersecurity training than average. Perhaps more surprisingly, 65% of manufacturing businesses say they’ve received security training too**.

It’s possible that education, healthcare and retail businesses are less likely to have adopted hybrid working models, so there might be an assumption that they’re safe; that their cyber security risks haven’t changed. But the threats – and the consequences – are bigger than ever.

These three sectors face a pressing need to enhance their cybersecurity training – and they need to do it fast. Find out how here.

Can you afford to make this cybersecurity mistake?

Illustration of a laptop computer with a fake log-in page on the screen surrounded by money to represent the cost of a cybersecurity mistake

Cyber crime is a costly business. It’s estimated to have cost the global economy a staggering 6.5 trillion euros in 2022, and experts predict this figure to skyrocket to almost 10 trillion by 2025*.

In 2022, UK businesses were hit particularly hard, with cyber crime costing each one an average of £4,200. Medium and large businesses faced an even steeper financial toll, with an average cost of £19,400.

When a business suffers a data breach or security threat, the repercussions extend far beyond the initial financial losses. The costs associated with remedying the data breach and recovering from downtime can spiral out of control**.

As cyber criminals get smarter, organisations everywhere must invest in more advanced security measures, regularly update their cyber security training, and, especially in larger companies, hire dedicated cyber security staff to bolster their defences.

Not acting sooner could be an expensive mistake that few can afford to make. Explore how Brother can help.

*Source:  AAG -The Latest 2023 Cyber Crime Statistics (updated May 2023)
**Source:  Brother’s in[ctrl] cyber security survey

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