BT data shows more than 500 potential cyber attacks logged every second

Telecoms giant has said IT, defence, banking and insurance sectors are the most targeted by cyber criminals

More than 46 million signals of potential cyber attacks are spotted by cyber security experts every day around the world, according to new data from BT. The telecoms giant said more than 530 signals of potential attack were logged per second.

The company said hackers are continuously scanning devices connected to the internet looking for weaknesses by using automation and machine learning to identify vulnerabilities in cyber defences.

BT data shows that over the last 12 months the IT, defence, banking and insurance sectors were the most targeted by cyber criminals, followed by retail, hospitality and education. Around 785,000 cyber attacks also targeted charities over the last year.

Arun Chauhan, fraud and financial crime lawyer at Tenet Law, told Consumer Voice:

‘The consumer landscape has seen many of us pushed into a digital world for most of our day-to-day activities. The most valuable commodity for criminals in this digital age is your personal data as that can help them unlock deceiving businesses by using your name to get credit, often leaving the victims having to fight off demands for payment for goods they never received and having to prove their innocence.

The latest figures from BT are a timely reminder of being cautious online with data we share and who we are purchasing from.’

Businesses find it difficult to keep up with cyber security measures

More than half of businesses (61%) told a BT survey in May that they find keeping up with cyber security measures increasingly difficult. BT warned that these trends should be of greater concern.

Tris Morgan, manager director for security at BT, said: ‘The volume of cyber threats in the UK is rising at an alarming rate, so it’s really concerning that so many businesses and public services are leaving themselves open to attack.’

Official statistics from the UK government’s 2023 cyber security breaches survey show that UK businesses have experienced approximately 2.39 million cyber crimes in the last 12 months.

The National Crime Agency has said cyber crime costs the UK billions of pounds and threatens national security.

Phishing attacks are the biggest cyber security threat

Phishing attacks are the greatest threat to businesses and individuals in 2023. 

The findings of the 2023 cyber breaches survey, published by the UK government, found that of the 346 businesses that identified a cyber crime in the last 12 months, 89% of them had experienced phishing attacks. 

Phishing attacks are used to deliver harmful malware or ransomware but they can also simply be a way of deceiving individuals or organisations into revealing sensitive information, such as login credentials, financial information or personal details. 

Email phishing is a common example. This is where attackers send deceptive emails that appear to be from legitimate sources like banks, social media platforms or trusted companies. These emails often contain links to fake websites designed to steal login credentials.

‘Spear phishing’ targeting specific individuals or organisations, ‘vishing’ involving phone calls where an attacker poses as a trusted entity (like a bank) and ‘smishing’ attacks using test messages are also common methods of deceiving recipients into clicking malicious links or sharing sensitive information.

How to avoid a cyber attack

Most cyber attacks can be prevented by taking simple security steps:

  • Choose strong passwords and don’t reuse them across multiple logins
  • Install security software such as anti-virus and two-factor authentication. This kind of software is often available for free.
  • Keep all security software and operating systems updated (this can be set to update automatically).

You can find more information at Cyber Aware, Get Safe Online or the National Cyber Security Centre.If you are a victim of cyber crime you can report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.

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