Over sixty percent of public sector organisations in the UK were targeted by cyber attacks in 2018 with eighteen percent of them suffering over one thousand attacks each in the calendar year, a Freedom of Information request by SolarWinds has revealed.
While the percentage of public sector organisations that did not suffer any cyber attacks increased from 30 percent in 2017 to 38 percent in 2018, of those who were targeted by cyber criminals, 95% of them were targeted using phishing attacks, 86 percent of them were targeted with malware attacks and 54 percent also suffered ransomware attacks in the past year. .
The share of public sector organisations that were targeted by over one thousand cyber attacks annually rose from 14 percent in 2017 to 18 percent in 2018, indicating that almost a fifth of public sector organisations continue to serve as high-value targets for hackers.
Even though almost all organisations were targeted by phishing or malware attacks, only three percent of them served as targets for malicious insiders and a similar number of them faced attacks sponsored by foreign governments. These figures were shared by 28 central government organisations, 164 NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), and the Ministry of Defence.
Public sector organisations using a variety of security tools to keep hackers at bay
In order to defend against hacking attacks, information provided by organisations to SolarWinds revealed that most public sector organisations allocated between $100,001 - $500,000 for their cybersecurity budget in 2018, with the mean spend being over $350,000 (£276,325).
While almost all organisations installed firewalls, antivirus solutions, and malware protection solutions, 94% of them installed patch management solutions that ensure timely application of critical patches, 73% used log management tools, and 74% used tools for network traffic analysis.
"While preparation is generally high throughout the public sector, the growth in large numbers of attacks shows that there is still a significant risk. These results highlight the importance of finding simple-to-use, affordable, and scalable security solutions that can work across the varied IT environments like those in the NHS and central government, to ensure the most comprehensive protection available for these vital services," said Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds.
The need for affordable and scalable security solutions to fight the manace of cyber attacks is the need of the hour as 67 percent of public sector organisations feel that budget constraints are holding them back from fighting cyber crime effectively. While 71 percent of them highlighted competing priorities as their main challenge, 59 percent highlighted lack of manpower and 48 percent highlighted complexity of the internal environment as their principal challenge.