UK businesses need to further strengthen their defenses against cyber-attacks, according to new research which has revealed that cybersecurity performance in the UK has declined in the last year compared to other EU countries.

The research from BitSight found that the UK has slipped backwards in the last year in terms of its overall cybersecurity rating and is now behind Germany, Austria and Finland among the G7, whilst insurance, defense and legal sectors are the highest performing overall when it comes to cybersecurity.

Speaking at an event held at the House of Lords on February 5, CTO and co-founder of BitSight Stephen Boyer said that “the number of vulnerabilities in the attack surface continues to explode” and this was because of digital transformation, which had its benefits to the organization but also could “leave the doors unlocked” when it comes to defense issues.

As for the research, Boyer said that the UK ranking regarding cybersecurity ratings is down slightly, but this is in the wrong direction and there is room for improvement. “There are threats that are out there, and things that organizations are doing that are causing risk that could cause catastrophic scenarios,” he said.

Boyer added that Belgium was the most noted country for cybersecurity in the G7, because of its public and private sector collaboration and efforts to inform the private sector of threats and issues. “They are also very focused on measurement, how they are doing and as most of the IT infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, they report to the Prime Minister how they are doing as a country, and how they compare,” he said.

Boyer explained that this level of reporting was the future of metrics for economies as “almost everything we do will have some sort of cybersecurity component.”

Also speaking at the event was former Home Secretary Lord Blunkett, who is also chair of Cyber Essential Direct. He said the data “encourages us that we are doing alright, not brilliantly,” but fresh NCSC reports about IoT devices shows that challenges around supply chain require better collaboration. “The message is clear: we’ve got a major challenge ahead of us and we can do so much more,” he argued.

Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness, said that despite the “continued misconceptions of too many businesses, cyber-risk is enormous and growing, and it is clearly in the national interest for this industry as a whole” to have better defenses.

Warman also said that the economic opportunity for Britain to build on its enormous reputation in this area is huge “and if we get this right, we can make sure this is an industry in which Britain continues to have that great reputation.”

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