A new security barometer, carried out by office technology specialists, Altodigital, to better understand the impact of security breaches on UK business, has discovered almost one in five (18%) UK businesses has been targeted by hackers in the last 12 months, costing the economy a whopping £1.9 billion. Stats also suggest that 28% of the legal sector was targeted by hackers in 2016, with a cost to UK firms of £20 million.

The results have been directly compared to Altodigital’s security barometer from 2013, to discover how much UK businesses have developed in terms of office security and to see if the business community is keeping up with cyber criminals. The study found that the average cost of a hack to a UK business was more than £2000 each, and the average cost of a hack to a law firm was £2018. The barometer also revealed that law firms are now seriously compromising their confidential data, and unknowingly committing security violations because of a lack of appropriate knowledge of their IT systems and document security.

These hacks equated to a colossal five to seven days of down time for law firms, with half of the firm’s staff members affected. When analysing the UK’s most common sins when it comes to security breaches, the study revealed there’s still a long way to go for businesses. The biggest faux pas are:
· Companies not having a firewall (up to 45% from 27% in 2013)
· Failing to change old passwords (down to 24% from 59% in 2013)
· Not protecting data stored on printers or photocopiers at all (21%)

The primary method for IT hacks in 2016 for the legal sector was phishing emails (33%) – when fraudsters attempt to obtain sensitive information for malicious reasons. 31% of those questioned have also experienced a hack via their telecoms systems, with the most common methods being via remote voice mail access (41%), remote programming (39%) and IP phones (21%).

When it comes to scanning or photocopying documents, 86% of UK businesses admit to regularly processing highly confidential documents such as birth certificates, (33%) client confidential documents (31%) and even company insurance documents (38%). An overwhelming 69% are unaware that a photocopier will store every single document that it scans – a serious hacking risk when connected to a company network.

When asked about the barriers to investing in a sophisticated security strategy, 52% of firms said it’s too expensive (63% in 2013). 48% of UK employees also admitted that there’s a lack of concern at management level to invest in a reliable security infrastructure – a significant increase from 2013, when it was 20%. However it’s not all bad news though: an impressive 100% of IT Directors in the legal sector revealed that they always wipe their internal hard drive before getting rid of obsolete printers.

• Altodigital Networks Ltd (Altodigital) : http://www.altodigital.com – UK law firm clients include Pinsent Masons + Knights + Higgs and Sons

Formula for the cost to economy:

28% (the amount of law firms that suffered from an IT hack) of 36,100 businesses in 2016 = 10,108
Average number of employees in a business = 5
UK average wage = £27,600 per annum (£75.61 per day)
89% (of employees affected by a hack) of 5 = 4.45
4.45 x £75.61 = £336.46 x 6 (average days of down time) = £2,018.79 x 10,108 =
£20,405,898.99