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A government survey reveals that 90 per cent of large organisations and 74 per cent of SMEs suffered a cyber security breach in 2015. The problem is getting worse, and UK companies that don’t attempt to tackle it face EU fines from 2018 which could total £122bn a year. Ideally a chief information officer should be sitting in every boardroom to explain the risks to the business.

We also need more collaboration between companies to share security information and experiences. The risks are real. We are seeing more phishing attacks on business and it only takes one employee to be caught out for criminals to install malware and steal valuable data. Old malware viruses are slipping through the net again because of the huge volume of threats being monitored. Ransomware attacks that stop organisations accessing their own data unless they pay are also on the rise.

Companies need to train their staff on the personal and business implications of a security breach. It is important to remember that around 10 per cenrt of breaches come from an internal source. Crucially organisations must find time to upgrade their systems to ensure the security and payment software they are using is the most up-to-date.

Cyber hacking is not just a problem for large companies. SMEs can suffer too and they can obtain guidance from the PCI on how to protect their systems. Every business should have a robust incident response plan and test it regularly. Consumer confidence and the share price can fall if a breach is handled badly. There are massive skill gaps in the cyber security industry so it is good to see more universities offering relevant courses and companies offering apprenticeships to increase expertise.

The battle against the cyber criminals will be a long one but it is a fight everyone must play a part in.