One in three UK companies have been hacked

Hacking poses major threat to the future of UK companies, according to IT professionals

A survey of IT professionals released today indicates that one in three UK businesses has been the victim of a major security break in. Almost half of those who took part in the poll said that the future of their organisation could be ruined by a serious hacker attack.

The survey, commissioned by the Communications Management Association (CMA) questioned 2000 senior IT professionals and guaranteed anonymity to participants.

"Inside UK businesses and industry there is growing disquiet among ICT professionals at the vulnerability of companies to network elated violations coming both from inside and outside the organisation," said CMA chairman John Wright in a statement.

The CMA said that some government offices have been the victims of cyber break-ins and information theft. News of the research comes just a week after Foreign Secretary Robin Cook warned that computer hacking may pose a greater threat to the national infrastructure than military attack.

Richard Stagg, a computer security consultant who investigates cases of computer hacking for UK computer forensics firm IRM, does not find the results particularly surprising. He says that many companies will brush successful attacks under the carpet rather than risk damaging their reputation. "We find it fairly common that those who have been hacked don't want to do anything about it, even to the point of not pressing charges," he says.

Stagg says that, although many of the more publicised cases of computer hacking may seem trivial such as Web site defacements, this may often point to more serious weaknesses within a company. To coincide with the results of the survey, the CMA has launched a new Institute for Communications Arbitration and Forensics (ICAF), a body designed to help provide companies and investigators with expert advice on computer crime.

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The discovery that yet another flaw exists in Microsoft's Internet Explorer, and that Microsoft has had to issue a patch for it, shouldn't be a surprising one. Guy Kewney says -- there's no such thing as a perfect program. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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