An average UK business suffered as many as 119,659 internet-borne cyber attacks on its systems and infrastructure in the first three months of 2019 compared to 53,981 cyber attacks suffered by UK businesses on average in the first quarter of 2018.
These figures from ISP Beaming indicate that the number of cyber attacks targeting UK businesses has more than doubled over the past year. This also provides another reason, aside from the arrival of GDPR, for why UK businesses must improve their cyber security, invest in employee education and training, and put in place advanced security solutions to prevent cyber attacks or to mitigate their after-effects.
Cyber security analysts at Beaming observed that hackers used 442,091 unique IP addresses to target UK business, many of which were traced to other countries. While a little over 51,000 IP addresses were located in China, 32,386 were located in Brazil, and 31,131 were located in Russia.
Threefold rise in cyber attacks emanating from Egypt
The researchers also noted a threefold increase in the number of cyber attacks carried out on UK businesses from IP addresses located in Egypt. Between January and March this year, more than 36,000 unique IP addresses in Egypt were used to launch cyber attacks over the internet on UK businesses.
"Cyber attacks continue to be a clear and present danger to UK businesses and the IT infrastructure they rely on. Business leaders should be wary, the rate of attack has been at historically high levels since October last year," said Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming.
"Since we started tracking cyber attack activity just over three years ago we’ve come to expect that businesses will be attacked around 20,000 times a month on average. At the moment we are seeing twice that level of malicious activity online.
"While there is plenty that we can do at a network level to minimise the threat of online attacks, businesses need to take cyber security seriously, educate employees and put in place security measures such as managed firewalls to ensure they don’t expose themselves to undue risk," she added.
Iranian hackers targeting UK businesses as well
Earlier this month, Sky News revealed that hackers sponsored by Iran and linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard also carried out a large number of cyber attacks against the Post Office, several local government networks, as well as UK-based private sector companies, including banks in the run up to Christmas last year.
Sky News said that the cyber-attacks were largely successful as the hackers were able to steal email addresses, mobile numbers and other personal details of thousands of local government and Post Office employees, including those of the Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells.
The cyber attacks were likely in response to the indictment of nine key leaders of the Iran-based Mabna Institute by the FBI in February last year on several counts of wire fraud, theft of proprietary data, and accessing computer systems without authorisation. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre had publicly congratulated the FBI for nabbing people linked to the Mabna Institute.