The UK’s former telecoms incumbent, BT, has provided some insight to the sheer amount of cyber threats facing organisations today.

BT on Wednesday announced that it has clocked 46 million signals of potential cyberattacks every day, and more than 530 signals detected every second.

Most cyberattacks see criminal gangs attempting to extort ransom payments from victims, but other cyberattacks have a more sinister aspect. This week for example the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague has admitted that its “cybersecurity incident” five weeks ago, was actually a case of espionage.

Cyberattack signals

Now according to BT’s data, more than 46 million signals of potential cyberattacks are seen on average every single day across the world.

BT said the most targeted industries in the past 12 months are IT, defence, banking and insurance – with 19.7 percent of malware sightings being directed towards these high-stakes targets.

The retail, hospitality and education sectors are also at high risk, accounting for 14.9 percent of malware sightings in the past 12 months, BT found. The carrier said that criminals often capitalise on seasonal sales and spikes in online traffic, which makes the festive period a particular worry for retailers.

Unfortunately, small businesses, start-ups and charities are also finding themselves in the firing line; approximately 785,000 cyber-crimes were found across UK charities in the last 12 months, BT said.

BT said this suggests that cyber criminals are going for organisations and sectors that are less ‘traditional’ targets – and may not have the security tools in place to protect themselves.

The BT data also shows that every 30 seconds cyber criminals scan any device connected to the internet looking for weaknesses, using automation and machine learning to identify vulnerabilities in business defences – the digital equivalent of a burglar looking for an open window.

All of this means that the average business will have its network scanned and tested by cybercriminals over 3,000 times each day. BT said this means it is critical to have the right tools in place to identify and prevent against attacks, and to review these regularly.

Cybercrime podcast

BT also announced as part of its efforts to raise the profile of cybersecurity, it is launching a new podcast series explaining the remarkable true stories behind some of the world’s most harrowing cyber hacks.

True Cybercrime Stories by BT, narrated by Adrian Lester (star of TV series, The Undeclared War), can be found here.

True Cybercrime Stories by BT, narrated by Adrian Lester (pictured).
Image credit BT

BT currently serves customers in more than 180 countries, including offering cyber security services for private and public sector organisations.

It has a team of 3,000 cyber professionals that defend against thousands of cyberattacks a day.

“The volume of cyberthreats 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,” said Tris Morgan, MD of Security at BT.

“With more than a million business customers, BT is the first line of cyber defence for organisations across the world – and we’re proud of our long heritage of protecting people, businesses and critical national infrastructure,” said Morgan.

“That’s why we’re launching the True Cybercrime Stories podcast: to shine a light on the shocking impact this crime epidemic can have, raise awareness of the risks and encourage everyone to think about what they could be doing to protect our businesses and essential services,” Morgan concluded.

Automated tools

The alarming data from BT drew a reaction from Ryan McConechy, CTO at managed service provider Barrier Networks.

“This new report from BT shows how criminals are relying on scanners and automated tools to help them find vulnerable systems and carry out attacks,” said McConechy.

“The figures are worryingly high, but with AI tools now being readily available to offer further cybercrime assistance, they could be a drop in the ocean in comparison with what we see a year from now,” McConechy cautioned. “Technology is aiding cybercriminals, making it easier than ever to launch attacks, while significantly lowering the hacking-barrier-to-entry, which will spur a new generation of adversaries.”

“To survive in this battle, organisations must never let their guards down and prioritise cyber resilience,” said McConechy. “This involves using strong, unique passwords, implementing MFA and Zero Trust principles, using Privileged Access Management (PAM) to protect key accounts, deploying layered security to prevent lateral movement, and training employees regularly on phishing and cybercrime.”

Layered defences

Meanwhile, William Wright, CEO of cybersecurity service provider Closed Door Security, said the scale of cyberattacks revealed by BT shows the need for organisations to adopt layered cyber defences.

“These figures are very concerning for all businesses and internet users across the world, and they showcase the true prominence of cybercrime today,” said Wright.

“Attacks are at an all-time high and the increasingly connected world aids criminals, making it much easier to execute successful attacks,” said Wright. “The clear takeaway from this report is undoubtedly the importance of security defences. No organisation should ever leave things to chance, because sooner or later they will get hit, or maybe they already have been?”

“When it comes to defences, organisations must focus on a layered strategy, which includes running proactive security assessments to find and close exploitable bugs, training employees on attack techniques, and having the ability to segment the network, so even when unauthorised intruders do break in, they can’t travel,” Wright concluded.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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