Press release

Almost half of NI businesses don’t have a properly tested cyber security strategy

Mike Harris Mike Harris

Over 100 guests from different businesses across a wide range of sectors attended the breakfast seminar, which took place at Belfast’s Ramada Plaza Hotel.

An interactive survey carried out at a major cyber security and fraud awareness seminar in Belfast on Wednesday morning has revealed that 49% of the private and public sector businesses in attendance do not have a properly tested plan in place for dealing with a cyber security attack.

Hosted by Barclays bank and Grant Thornton, in partnership with CBI, the breakfast event also revealed that 30% of companies do not have a fully approved cyber security strategy, while 63% believe that Northern Ireland should have its own overarching cyber security strategy.

With organisations across the globe urging their employees, suppliers and customers to take action against malicious software and data breaches, the seminar examined how businesses can understand the current cyber threats and develop a coherent and cost-effective response.

Among the panel of expert speakers addressing the audience was Mike Harris, Partner at Grant Thornton, Alex Grant, Managing Director of Fraud Risk Management, Barclays bank, Emma Collins, Principal Policy Adviser at CBI, and Douglas Grant, Detective Chief Inspector, PSNI.

Mike Harris, Cyber Security Partner at Grant Thornton, commented:

“As revealed by Grant Thornton’s International Business Report at the end of last year, cybercrime is costing the Northern Ireland economy almost £100m each year. It’s absolutely vital, therefore, that small and large organisations both public and private sector alike develop a structured approach to implementing cyber security controls and processes.

“They need to understand in detail cyber security threats they face, put effective, appropriate controls and strategy in place to protect their organisation and finally develop and test a robust response plan in the event of a cyber-attack. It's no longer a question of if an organisation will face a cyber-attack but rather when!”

Joanna McArdle, Director at Barclays bank, said:

“Businesses must recognise the threat that cybercrime can pose to them, their reputation and subsequently their bottom line. With the number of clients going online rapidly increasing, the issue of cyber security has never been more important.

“At Barclays we have implemented a range of initiatives to help fight cybercrime, from our ‘Digital Eagles’ who teach vulnerable people how to stay safe online, alongside a series of events for local businesses similar to today, which helps raise awareness of the threats and the strategies they can put in place to protect themselves and their customers from attack.”  

Emma Collins, Principal Policy Adviser at CBI, said:

“In a digital age, effective cyber security is a must-have for businesses. Protecting finances, IP, brand, customer data and reputation are key objectives for effective cyber security and, as such, should be on the agenda of the board, and actioned throughout a business as part of any effective cyber security or digital strategy.”