ICO urges organisations to boost cyber security

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has urged organisations to boost their cyber security and protect the personal information they hold, as the threat from cyber attacks continues to grow.

Data from the ICO shows that more organisations than ever are experiencing cyber security breaches. Over 3,000 cyber breaches were reported in 2023, with the finance (22 per cent), retail (18 per cent) and education (11 per cent) sectors reporting the most incidents.

In a new report published today, the ICO has analysed the data breach reports and shared lessons that can be learned.

The “Learning from the mistakes of others” report provides practical advice to help organisations to understand common security failures and take simple steps to improve their own security.

The report focuses on the five leading causes of cyber security breaches: phishing, brute force attacks, denial of service, errors and supply chain attacks.

Stephen Bonner, deputy commissioner, regulatory supervision, said: “People need to feel confident that organisations are doing as much as they possibly can to keep their personal information secure. While cyber attacks are growing more sophisticated, we find that many organisations are not responding accordingly and are still neglecting the very foundations of cyber security.

"As the data protection regulator, we want to support and empower organisations to get this right. While there is no single solution to prevent cyber attacks, there is absolutely no excuse for not having the foundational controls in place. These are essential to protecting people’s personal information and we will take action, including fines, against organisations that are still not taking simple steps to secure their systems.

"If you do experience a cyber attack, we always encourage transparency as your mistakes could help another organisation to avoid a similar breach.”  

Eleanor Fairford, NCSC deputy director for incident management, said: “As more organisations report cyber incidents, it is ever-more crucial to have strong online defences to reduce the risk of falling victim and to protect personal information.

"The NCSC is committed to helping organisations raise their cyber resilience and we urge leaders to make use of the wide range of practical guidance and free services available on the NCSC website. If the worst should happen, we encourage reporting incidents to the authorities to access expert support and help break the cycle of crime.”