Almost two thirds (66%) of UK business leaders expect the threat from cyber criminals to increase over the next 12 months, according to the latest PwC cyber security survey of business and technology executives.
PwC said the findings “reinforce” the concerns of UK businesses about different cyber threats, as well the potential vulnerability of their supply chains.
The concern comes as the firm warns there is also the “added threat of ‘ransomware as a service’” in which ransomware developers lease out their malware in exchange for a share of the criminal profits. PwC found that 61% of UK respondents expect to see an increase in reportable ransomware incidents in 2022.
It said expectations of an increase in ransomware attacks reflects UK businesses’ concern about a broader increase over the next 12 months in cyber threats, including business email compromise (61%) and malware via software updates (63%).
In addition, PwC revealed the increased complexity of some organisations’ operations due to growth, mergers and acquisitions, or the rapid adoption of new technologies has made them “more difficult to properly secure”.
Some 86% of UK respondents said that complexity in their organisation creates “concerning levels of risk”, and added this is primarily caused by a network of multi-vendor environments.
Notably, it found 64% of UK respondents expect a jump in attacks on their cloud services over the next year. However, only 41% professed to having an understanding of cloud risks based on formal assessments.
Similarly, 63% of respondents said their organisations expect a rise in breaches via their software supply chain, yet only 42% have formally assessed their enterprise’s exposure to this risk.
Bobbie Ramsden-Knowles, Crisis and Resilience partner, PwC UK said: “It’s impossible to ignore the threat from ransomware attacks as criminal groups become more brazen and scale their operations through ‘ransomware as a service’ and the use of affiliate criminal groups. At PwC our threat intelligence team has already tracked more ransomware incidents globally, up to September 2021, than in the whole of 2020.
“Ransomware has the potential to rapidly disrupt an organisation’s entire business, across geographies and functions. For organisations without a framework for managing enterprise-wide crises there is an acute need to develop and embed one, to be able to respond to this type of disruptive event in a coordinated way.”
He added: “Whereas other types of crises may be perceived as ‘black swan’ events that can not be predicted, ransomware attacks have become so widespread that we have seen a common set of challenges and decisions that all organisations would face.
“Developing – and aligning – ransomware playbooks for executive crisis teams and operational responders is a no-regrets move. And, testing these through wargames and exercises can reduce uncertainty, build confidence in the ability to respond and help prioritise focus on preventative measures.”