Threats become incidents. Incidents become breaches. Cyber security becomes business critical.

Every day news hits the papers about potential cyber threats that face UK businesses. Last year, government research reported that two-thirds of big UK businesses had been hit by a cyber-attack in the previous year1. In a new report released by Internet Service Provider Beaming in January 2017, it was estimated that the volume of attacks hitting individual company firewalls passed the 1,000 per day mark, on average, for the first time in November2.

The numbers about the frequency of attacks are frightening enough but scarier still is an estimate from the Ponemon Institute, that it takes an average of 56 days to detect a hacker in your network3. The same report states that the average total cost of a data breach is $4 million which is an increase of 20% since 2013.

The increase in frequency and sophistication of threat actors and the expanding attack surface makes it nearly impossible for security teams to identify and fully understand compromises before a breach.

So, what steps can UK businesses take to protect themselves from the rising threats and potential costs of a cyber-attack?

Assess your current capabilities

A good place to start is to benchmark your business. In a survey conducted by RSA last year, only 24% of organisations were satisfied with their current ability to detect and investigate threats using their current data and tools. Only 11% of those same companies felt that they could investigate attacks very quickly.

You can assess your threat detection and response capabilities for free. All you need to do is answer a series of questions about your business and your network. In 4 minutes or less you will have submitted all the information required to produce a bespoke report on your current state. Benchmark your capabilities now.

Stay vigilant

Even the most elusive threat actor will leave indications of their presence and movements. Knowing what to look for and where may be the difference between preventing and mitigating the damage of a cyber attack or suffering potentially catastrophic loss. Vigilance, unrelenting persistence and continuous learning are essential. This situational awareness must be operationalised by tools that provide visibility and forensic data. A detailed view of the entire potential attack surface is critical to discovering and disrupting intrusions.

Gain better visibility across your entire infrastructure

There is an increasing array of solutions out there to help you gain better visibility of your network and give the ability to stop cyber-attacks in their earliest stages.

RSA NetWitness Suite is a threat detection and response platform that gives you the fastest path to eradicate threats, regardless of the attack vector. Through the collection of data across physical, virtual and cloud platforms; across packets, logs, endpoint devices, Netflow and from multiple intelligence sources, NetWitness gives businesses complete visibility and connects the dots over time, eliminating potential blind spots. Find out more about the features and benefits of NetWitness Suite.

To assess your vulnerability click here

1 BBC News: Cyber attacks: Two-thirds of big UK businesses targeted

2 Beaming: Cyber Report 2016

3 The Ponemon Institute, 2016, Global Cost of a Data Breach Study