Cybersecurity and the future of the digital economy

Cybersecurity is the biggest concern for businesses preparing for an increasingly digital economic future.

Innovation Observatory has found many times in its research among businesses that security is right at the top of companies’ concerns – particularly among small and medium-sized businesses. We have also found that levels of understanding are low too, so even among companies that consider themselves secure, confidence may be misplaced.

In a study of the digital economy for KC, the telecoms services provider based in Hull, UK, Innovation Observatory questioned 271 businesses across all sectors and of all sizes. We assessed their readiness for the digital economy and asked them about what concerned them (from a randomly ordered list of possible options) about preparing for a more digital future.

The results were striking. Cybersecurity issues are of more significance than skills or connection speed, with 33% of businesses citing it as a concern.

Concerns about a digital economy future

This work backs up a previous Innovation Observatory study of the ICT maturity of UK businesses. We identified ‘data and application security policy’ as one of four indicators of ICT maturity within the ICT strategy and process domain. When we measured this indicator in a survey of UK businesses that calibrated our maturity model we found that at level 1 maturity (the least mature in our four-level model) there was not generally any systematic approach to data backup, let alone attacks on ICT systems from outside or within organisations. In fact, of the 250 businesses we surveyed, 23% said they had no security policy or strategy in place at all.

At around level 2 and 3 maturity, companies begin to take security more seriously, and are significantly more likely than the least, or most mature, to buy managed security services.

All this suggests that for service providers, there is an education job and a sales opportunity in the delivery of managed security services. The advent of virtualized security appliances (firewalls, threat detection and intrusion prevention systems) makes managed security services a more compelling proposition than in the past.

For more details of Innovation Observatory’s work on the digital economy, ICT maturity or managed security, contact Danny Dicks.

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