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How big is the problem?

How big a problem is this?
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

So, how big a problem is this?

In July 2019 the UK governmental Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport released its Cyber security breaches survey 2019 report, a report that ‘is a quantitative and qualitative survey of UK businesses and charities’ (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport 2019: 1).

Businessman or stock market trader working at desk with multiple screens showing statistics

This report highlights some interesting financial impact figures suggesting that, where businesses have lost data or assets through cyber security breaches, the financial costs from such incidents have consistently risen since 2017:

Among the 32 per cent of businesses recording breaches or attacks, this resulted in a negative outcome, such as a loss of data or assets, in 30 per cent of cases. Among the charities recording breaches or attacks, this happened 21 per cent of the time. In businesses that had these kinds of negative outcomes, the average (mean) cost to the business was £4,180 in 2019. This is higher than in 2018 (£3,160) and 2017 (£2,450). It indicates a broad trend of rising costs in cases where cyber attacks are able to penetrate an organisation’s defences. Once again, the average costs faced by larger businesses in these cases tend to be much higher (£9,270 for medium firms and £22,700 for large firms in 2019). And for charities facing such negative outcomes from breaches, the average cost was £9,470 in 2019. The quantitative survey highlights that the costs of cyber security breaches can be substantial. However, our qualitative findings suggest that, outside the survey, the indirect costs, long-term costs and intangible costs of breaches – things like lost productivity or reputational damage – tend to be overlooked. This means that, when organisations reflect on their approaches to cyber security, they may be undervaluing the true cost and impact of cyber security breaches.
(Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, UK 2019: 3)
It is clear that in the UK there has been, for a second year in a row, a reduction in the number of attacks or breaches. The report offers up explanations as to why this is happening. See what you think.

Your task

Have a read of the report summary and conclusions of the main report (‘Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019: Main report’). What is your opinion? Share this with your fellow students. If you are not from the UK, what information can you find and share about your own government’s response to cyber crime?


Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (2019) Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019 [online] available from [20 August 2019]

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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The Cyber Security Landscape

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