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The Bulletin

Cyber security isn't the U.K.'s cup of tea

Posting in Government

Company bosses in the U.K. are far too complacent when it comes to the threat of cybercrime, a new survey suggests.

The independent survey of 200 U.K. business owners conducted by The Leadership Factor in December last year on behalf of Swivel Secure implies that even though businesses are more at risk than ever of being targeted by hackers, the issue is one often simply swept under the table.

The results -- although the sample size of the survey should be kept in mind -- are pretty staggering. Over half of respondents, 51 percent, said they were "unconcerned" with the security of corporate systems and infrastructure, with one in four CEOs happily admitting that they use the same password for work purposes as they do for personal accounts including Facebook profiles.

Four out of five business owners now regularly use up to 50 websites which require a username and password to access, whereas just five years ago, 73 percent accessed just 20 or less. It's not always possible to remember a huge number of different number and word combinations, and so many of us stay with a select few passwords, but doing more online with the same username and password greatly increases the chances of someone obtaining these details and exploiting them.

"Just as the government is waking up to cybercrime, we discover that company bosses are half asleep," comments Chris Russell, VP of Engineering at Swivel Secure. "The problem is that business owners think that cybercrime is something that happens to other people, without appreciating the value of the data they hold and the motivations of people who may want to access it. It's time business owners realised that usernames and passwords are actually not secure at all."

Companies and their employees often now connect to corporate systems via mobile technology, including smartphones and tablets. However, with so many of us working remotely as flexible timetables gain ground in business culture, the possibility of security breaches also increase. Work across different browsers and operating systems, and the use of archaic user and password gateways all contribute to making it is easier for cybercriminals to gain access and wreak havoc.

"The government claims cybercrime costs the U.K. economy £27 billion a year," added Russell. "That's the equivalent of building one of Boris Johnson's Thames Estuary airports every twelve months. You can't help but wonder how much of that could be saved if business owners took a few simple steps to transition to a 21st century system for authenticating users and protecting their corporate data."

Photo Credit: angermann

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— By on January 15, 2013, 8:23 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure