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Security breaches double over last two years

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A lack of investment in security systems is allowing British companies to fall victim to increasing severe security breaches.

That's the main finding of the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) annual Information Security Breaches Survey, which concludes that the average cost of a security breach is £30,000, with several companies reporting incidents which cost more than £500,000.

The survey, led by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the DTI, shows that three-quarters of UK businesses believe that they hold sensitive or critical information, but only one-quarter have a security policy in place to protect it.

Senior managers identify security as a high priority but there's a marked difference between this, and actually doing something about it.

This lack of attention to security is cited as the main reason that the number of UK businesses that have suffered a malicious security incident since 2000 has almost doubled. Half of companies (four out of five large businesses) fell victim over the past year to viruses, hacking attacks, fraud, and other information security breaches compared to one quarter in 2000 and less than one in five in 1998.

The survey, which it has to be pointed out was conducted in association with security vendors, suggests UK businesses are not spending anywhere near enough to protect the business that they are doing online. Less than one quarter of those quizzed spend more than one per cent of their IT budget on security, against a "minimum reasonable level" of three to five per cent.

The findings come from a survey, conducted between October 2001 and January 2002, which involved 1,000 telephone interviews; 100 face to face interviews; and answers to an online questionnaire.

Full results of the survey will be made available during the Infosecurity Europe 2002 conference on 23 April. ®

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