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A new survey reveals that one in five businesses across the United Kingdom fell victim to a digital attack in the past year.

On 18 April, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) published the results of a digital study for which it surveyed 1,200 UK businesses about their year in digital security. The survey’s findings indicate that organizations’ size played a part in determining the likelihood of a digital attack. 42 percent of big businesses (companies with a staff of 100 people or more) said they fell victim to an attack, for example, while just 18 percent of entities with a workforce of 99 employees or less reported the same. It’s therefore not surprising that more than a fifth (21 percent) of all respondents said they believe the threat of digital crime confronting them is growing.

To defend against both digital crime and digital attacks, organizations can pursue relevant accreditations like Cyber Essentials. Dr. Adam Marshall, director general of the BCC, elaborates on the value of these types of qualifications in a press release:

“Firms need to be proactive about protecting themselves from cyber-attacks. Accreditations can help businesses assess their own IT infrastructure, defend against cyber-security breaches and mitigate the damage caused by an attack. It can also increase confidence among the businesses and clients who they engage with online.”

Unfortunately, most of the organizations surveyed had not taken advantage of digital security accreditations. Less than a quarter (24 percent) said they had a scheme in place. Small businesses were also far less likely to pursue accreditations (10-15 percent) than big businesses (47 percent).

However, with the GDPR on the horizon, it would behoove UK companies to take the initiative on digital security now rather than later. Dr. Marshall agrees with that statement:

“Businesses should also be mindful of the extension to data protection regulation coming into force next year, which will increase their responsibilities and requirements to protect personal data. Firms that don’t adopt the appropriate protections leave themselves open to tough penalties.”

Not only that, but by failing to accept their responsibilities when it comes to data protection, companies leave themselves vulnerable to the possibility of a breach. In 2016, data breaches cost 2.9 million UK firms approximately £30 billion. No company wants to be part of that victim pool. With that in mind, they should do all they can to live up to the GDPR’s requirements.

For a primer on the data protection requirement, click here.