More than 1.5m UK businesses hit by cyber crime in 2023 with small firms the worst affected

More than 1.5m UK businesses hit by cyber crime in 2023 with small firms the worst affected
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Tue 13th Feb 2024

Businesses in the UK suffered a total cost of £30.5bn as a result of cyber crime last year, new research reveals.

Internet service provider Beaming said the figure was 138% higher than the £12.8bn estimate in 2019, when it last surveyed businesses about incidents involving cyber criminals.

More than 1.5m businesses fell victim to some form of cyber attack in 2023, the report found, with small companies employing between 11 and 50 people experiencing the steepest rise in victims (up 42%) and costs (up 396%) between 2019 and 2023.

The average cost of recovering from an incident was £5,500, while phishing, the use of deceptive emails, messages, or links to trick people into exposing a business to a breach, was the most common way companies succumbed to cybercriminals. This form of attack claimed 679,000 business victims last year.

Cybercrime rates were highest in Wales, Yorkshire and the Humber, and the South West of England, where over half of businesses fell victim.

The cost was highest in London with firms in the capital losing £7.1bn due to breaches.

In addition to rising soaring costs, the report also found a rise in the emotional toll of cybercrime. Almost all (90%) respondents who experienced cybercrime in 2023 said they suffered some form of emotional distress, reporting symptoms more commonly associated with post-traumatic stress. The figure was 76% in 2019.

Sonia Blizzard, managing director of Beaming, said:

"While large businesses are proving more resilient to cybercrime, the cost of being breached is soaring, and SMEs are being hit harder than ever before.

"Businesses are investing in training and technology but they're under sustained attack. So as the use of technology helps business to grow, the investment in cybersecurity training also needs to be maintained."

Last month the government opened a consultation on a new cyber governance code of practice to help business owners shore up their defences against cyber threats.

Join a webinar on 29 February at 11am: Why small businesses should take cyber security seriously

Relevant cyber security resources

Are you making these cyber security mistakes in your business?

Cyber security for small businesses: A basic guide

Top cyber security threats and how to tackle them

Webinar: Five reasons to update your digital security

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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