Firms face £17 million fines for failing to prevent cyber attacks

For today’s businesses, protecting data and digital assets with cyber security is as essential as locking the office doors at night to protect physical property.

Now the government has announced that firms could face fines of up to £17 million, or 4% of their global turnover, if they fail to protect themselves from cyber attacks.

Potential losses in the event of a cyber attack are huge, with unsecured businesses not just risking the safety of their own bank accounts and documents, but potentially gambling with the data, bank details and digital property of clients, partners and customers.

In this case, the cyber security crackdown is particularly aimed at essential service providers, such as water, energy, transport and health firms, the cyber hacking of which could cause huge societal disruption.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock said fines would be a last resort.

“We want the UK to be the safest place in the world to live and be online, with our essential services and infrastructure prepared for the increasing risk of cyber-attack” he said.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said fines would not apply to firms which have safeguards in place but still suffer an attack.

Companies will need to show they have a strategy to cover power failures and environmental disasters. The DCMS said firms that take cyber-security seriously should already have measures in place to prevent attacks or system failures.

The move comes as the government decides how to implement the Network and Information Systems (NIS) directive, which becomes law across the EU next May and is aimed at protecting services.

Earlier this year, a government survey found that nearly half (46%) of British businesses discovered at least one cyber-security breach or attack in the past year, most often involving fraudulent emails being sent to staff or security issues relating to viruses, spyware or malware.

If you have any concerns about your cyber security, or want a free quotation for cyber insurance, contact the Chartered brokers at Hine on 0161 438 0000.

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