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87% of UK businesses are vulnerable to cyberattacks, says Microsoft report

Written by Tue 19 Mar 2024

A new report from Microsoft and Goldsmiths University found that only 13% of UK businesses are resilient to cyberattacks.

The report, titled Mission Critical: Unlocking the UK AI Opportunity Through Cybersecurity said to become an AI superpower, the UK must maintain its position as a cybersecurity superpower.

Security Business Group Director at Microsoft, Paul Kelly, said cybercriminals are ‘tooling up’ with AI to increase the sophistication and intensity of their attacks.

“The same AI technologies can help leaders better secure their organisation and tip the balance back in their favour,” said Kelly.

Siân John, Chief Technology Officer at IT security company, NCC Group, said organisations and policymakers face the ‘formidable task’ of harnessing AI’s transformative potential while navigating an ever-evolving threat landscape.

“Ensuring the well-being of people, processes, and technology in an AI-augmented world demands unwavering vigilance and a commitment to forward-thinking strategies that necessitate continuous adaptation,” said John.

Fighting Fire with Fire

The report found that AI-powered cyberattacks pose threats to UK supply chains, disrupt essential systems, and compromise sensitive data. While AI manipulated by malicious actors is a significant cybersecurity risk, responsibly deployed AI stands as a paramount defence.

AI can track and analyse cyber threats, empowering security professionals to respond swiftly and intelligently. However, the report reveals that only 27% of UK organisations currently leverage AI to enhance their cybersecurity.

The remaining organisations not only forego the most robust defence but also miss out on a substantial opportunity to advance their AI strategy.

AI-focused Cybersecurity can Save Billions

The report also found that investing in AI-focused cybersecurity could improve national strength and economic security. 

With cyberattacks costing the UK an estimated £87 billion ($110 billion) annually and increasing in frequency and complexity, the report found stronger cybersecurity measures could save the UK economy £52 billion ($66 billion) yearly.

“The UK has phenomenal potential to lead the world in the use of AI, an unprecedented opportunity to supercharge our economy and transform our public services. But that future must be built on secure foundations,” said Dr Chris Brauer, Director of Innovation at Goldsmiths, University of London.

The report added businesses integrating AI into their security strategies might experience 20% lower financial losses post-attack. 

A Blueprint for Cyber Success

The report suggested five key focuses for Government and business leaders to build resilient cyber defences whilst leveraging AI. 

Firstly, it advocates for promoting AI adoption in cybersecurity encouraging widespread adoption of AI-enabled defences to foster innovation among security professionals. Secondly, it highlighted the importance of targeted investment, urging leaders to prioritise precise investment strategies.

Thirdly, the report urged the need for talent development in the cybersecurity sector, proposing skills programmes and partnerships to cultivate UK talent. 

The report also encouraged research and knowledge sharing, promoting public and private partnerships to enhance cybersecurity preparedness.

Lastly, it underscored the importance of safe AI adoption, suggesting collaboration with business leaders to provide guidance aligned with international standards.

In February, a report by global consultancy Kearney and leadership advisory firm Egon Zehnder titled ‘Leadership in the Age of AI’ found a substantial 73% of business leaders feel ill-equipped for AI transformation due to constraints like limited time, people, and funds.

Despite this, 85% view AI as an opportunity for their organisations, with more than 90% seeing it as an opportunity for them personally within their roles.

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Written by Tue 19 Mar 2024

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