UK IT decision-makers lag behind US counterparts in cyber security, says BT

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IT decision-makers in the UK take cyber security less seriously than their US counterparts, who trounce them both on awareness of threats and the provision of training on risks to senior executives, according to a recent survey conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of BT.

Just 17 per cent of UK IT decision-makers said that cyber security was a major priority for their organisation, compared with 41 per cent in the US. Brazil, meanwhile, came top of the list, with over half (52 per cent) of decision-makers citing cyber security as a major priority.

But getting senior executives to understand the importance of cyber security is a global problem, according to the study: more than 58 per cent of those surveyed cited this as a challenge - a figure that increases to 74 per cent in the US, but drops to 55 per cent in the UK.

Perhaps more executive training is needed? The study, after all, finds that 86 per cent of US executives are given IT security training, compared to just 36 per cent in the UK.

Either way, the study shows that UK and US IT decision-makers view the potential threats differently.

Non-malicious threats are the most commonly cited security concern globally, as reported by 65 per cent of IT decision-makers across the worldwide study. But in the US, this rises to 85 per cent. In the UK, it falls to 60 per cent. Malicious insider threats, meanwhile, are the second most-commonly named concern, cited by 79 per cent of US respondents and only 51 per cent of UK respondents.

The threat of so-called hacktivism (attacks mounted by those with a political grudge against an organisation) is a concern to 77 per cent of US respondents, and only 37 per cent of UK respondents. But the threat of terrorism weighs far more heavily on UK respondents (72 per cent), compared to those from the US (12 per cent), and US respondents are more concerned by the threat from organised crime and nation states (75 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively) than those in the UK (32 per cent and 15 per cent).

“US businesses should be celebrated for putting cyber security on the front foot,” said Mark Hughes, CEO of BT Security. “The risks to business are moving too fast for a purely reactive security approach to be successful. Nor should cyber security be seen as an issue for the IT department alone.”

“As the threat landscape continues to evolve, CEOs and board-level executives need to invest in cyber security and educate their people in the IT department and beyond. The stakes are too high for cyber security to be pushed to the bottom of the pile.”

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