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Press Release

Over half of Irish businesses faced cyber attacks last year

Survey of business professionals at Grant Thornton event suggest AI technologies have made businesses more susceptible to attacks.

A survey of business professionals at a recent Grant Thornton event has revealed over half of businesses in Ireland experienced a cyber-attack in the past year. The survey, which polled 221 professionals across a variety of industries at the cyber security and AI risk event, also found that a significant number of businesses do not have a cybersecurity policy in place.

The survey results paint a concerning picture of the cybersecurity landscape in Ireland. While the majority of businesses appear to have some level of preparation for cyberattacks, the high prevalence of attacks and the lack of cybersecurity policies among some businesses suggest there are significant cyber vulnerabilities within businesses across the country.

“There is an acute awareness of the increasing risk of cybersecurity attacks in Ireland and internationally,” said Mike Harris, Cyber Partner at Grant Thornton Ireland.

“Yet, there remains significant vulnerabilities in organisations through the absence of robust controls and threat mitigation plans. The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the ways in which these technologies are coming onstream require a refocus of efforts to protect and mitigate cyber-attacks across every sector, the absence of which can be devastating to organisations."

The survey found that nearly a fifth of Irish businesses (18.6%) do not have a cybersecurity policy in place. Meanwhile, the survey also found that more than half of businesses (59.2%) reported experiencing a cyber-attack in the past year.

Despite the high prevalence of attacks, over two-thirds of businesses (72.5%) said that they are at least somewhat prepared for future attacks. However, this preparation is not universal, as over 10% of businesses said that they are not prepared at all.

The survey also found that a third of attendees at the event (32.2%) had not received cybersecurity training in the past 12 months. This is a concerning statistic, as regular cybersecurity training is essential for raising awareness of cyber threats and equipping employees with the skills to report and respond appropriately in the event a threat arises.

The survey revealed that three-quarters of guests (77.2%) believe new AI technologies will make businesses more susceptible to cyberattacks. This poses a greater challenge for businesses as AI threats are coming on-stream at the same time as the volume of traditional threats are also increasing.

In light of these findings, Grant Thornton Ireland is urging businesses to take the following strategic steps to improve their cybersecurity posture:

  • Understand the Cyber threats your organisation faces. These can be flaws in your I.T. systems or the susceptibility of your people to cyber-attacks.
  • Put the basics in place to protect your business. Guided by industry standards such as ISO 27001, implement policies and controls to manage your cyber risk including strong access control, security awareness training, and managing the security of your supply chains.
  • Be prepared to respond to cyber-attacks. Proactively monitor your systems for suspicious activity and have plans in place to respond effectively when you find it.  
  • Consider how you would recover in the event of a successful cyber-attack. Often recovering after an attack is more difficult than anticipated and could including rebuilding your I.T. systems from scratch. 

By taking these steps, businesses can help to protect themselves from existing and emerging threats.  

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