Timms urges firms to fight IT 'security menace'

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The Independent Online

Stephen Timms, the Trade minister, issued a stark warning to companies yesterday about the risks they face from security breaches relating to electronic data files.

Even though the problem in the UK is getting worse, the DTI has found that businesses are less well equipped to deal with the threat than two years ago when it carried out a similar study.

What Mr Timms described as an increasingly costly and common problem would require greater vigilance from companies to make sure crucial data was securely stored and protected.

Publishing a new survey into the problem, Mr Timms said: "As organisations struggle to contain these threats, the number of security incidents continues to rise. The battle to contain the information security menace will be a long one, and it is far from won. However, it is not a battle UK businesses can afford to lose."

The survey, produced with PricewaterhouseCoopers, fo-und that two thirds of UK businesses suffered a premeditated or malicious incident involving the loss of data in the past year. A quarter had a significant incident involving accidental systems failure or data corruption and that on average, UK businesses have about one security breach every month.

The costs of these breaches ranged from £10,000-£120,000 mostly caused by the loss of data but the DTI has found that the continuity planning by businesses to combat the threat is getting worse.

Only 32 per cent of organisations in the UK take back-ups of their data away from their offices to a separate, secure location. Only 20 per cent of companies have a disaster recovery plan and only 8 per cent have tested it, according to the DTI.

The Government is urging companies to invest more in security controls to mitigate the security risks or in more insurance to transfer those risks on to other financial specialists.