Cyberattacks more disruptive than Covid-19 and Brexit, shows research

A third of UK IT leaders believe increased cyberattacks are causing more disruption than both the pandemic and Brexit

Posted 24 November 2021 by Christine Horton

Almost a third (32 percent) of the UK’s midmarket IT leaders think increased cyberattacks are a more disruptive factor than Covid-19 (25 percent) and Brexit (21 percent).

Furthermore, 29 percent believe that cyberattacks will continue to present the most significant challenge in the next 12 months too, according to a new report by IT managed service provider (MSP) Node4.

The findings shows that 32 percent of respondents plan to prioritise IT security in 2022. Respondents also revealed other key goals for next year, including meeting compliance challenges (16 percent), improving customer experience (16 percent), deploying new collaboration solutions (15 percent) and increasing hybrid cloud development (14 percent). 

Despite this, the Midmarket IT Priorities Report 2021 shows that IT leaders expect a shortfall in IT spend in 2022. While 52 percent of IT decision-makers believe their 2021 budget met the ambitions of their team, there seems to be less certainty and confidence about future finances — 61 percent think their budget will need to increase in 2022, but only 13 percent expect it to.  

Increase in ransomware attacks

At the same time, a new survey of business and technology executives by PwC also shows that two thirds of UK business leaders expect the cybersecurity threat to increase over next 12 months.

Over the past year, prominent ransomware attacks have caused a significant impact on organisations already dealing with the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic. There is also now 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, noted PwC. The research finds that 61 percent of respondents expect to see an increase in reportable ransomware incidents in 2022.

PwC’s research contends that almost two-thirds of UK organisations (63 percent) are increasing their cybersecurity budgets over the coming year. This compares to 56 percent in last year’s survey. Furthermore, nearly a quarter of organisations (24 percent) plan to increase their cybersecurity spend by 10 percent or more.

Managed services filling a gap

Looking beyond security, 83 percent of the Node4 respondents think that managing compliance will become more complicated in 2022. The research suggests that compliance worries include long term data retention (23 percent), data loss prevention (21 percent), BYOD (21 percent), post-Brexit regulatory changes (18 percent), and GDPR (14 percent). 

The report anticipates that the anticipated shortfall in IT budgets — in combination with a range of external factors — will continue to drive the adoption of cloud and managed services, even for companies that would prefer to retain an internally resourced IT infrastructure.

The findings reveal that three-quarters (75 percent) of midmarket companies are finding it challenging to roll out Microsoft 365, and 87 percent are likely to rely on more managed services during 2022 than they did this year. With managed services helping to fill important expertise gaps during their cloud transformation journey, midmarket companies plan to increase investment in public cloud (39 percent), private cloud (41 percent), and colocation (35 percent) in 2022.

“Cybersecurity is the most significant current and future issue faced by midmarket organisations,” said Paul Bryce, managing director at Node4. “But IT leaders must confront this challenge while dealing with the ongoing issues raised by Brexit and Covid-19 — and while coping with ever more complex compliance regulations and an increasingly crowded market.”

“This would be a difficult task under normal circumstances. However, with little optimism for increased IT budgets over the next 12 months — and with many midmarket IT leaders still unhappy with current budgets — our research points to the need for IT solutions that will deal with all these issues and deliver maximum value for money.”