Hammond says U.K. business ill-prepared for rising cyber attacks

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(Bloomberg) -- The majority of U.K. businesses are not equipped to deal with cyber attacks, which are increasing in frequency and severity, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will warn on Tuesday, calling on companies to work with the government to fight cyber crime.

While 65 percent of large companies reported a cyber breach or attack in the past year, nine out of 10 businesses don’t even have an incident management plan to deal with such an incident, Hammond will say as he attends the official opening of a new National Cyber Security Centre in London. The NCSC has already helped counter 188 attacks in the first three months of its existence.

“The Internet revolution has transformed our economy” but is also a source of vulnerability, Hammond will say, according to prepared remarks released by his office. “Business has to sharpen its approach as the scale of the threat from cyber increases and intensifies.”

Parliament’s cross-party Public Accounts Committee warned earlier this month that the government is struggling to recruit enough cyber experts to protect its data from hackers and urged ministers to address the shortage urgently. The government has listed cyber attacks as one of the top four threats to national security since 2010.

Hammond will tour the center with Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon. The government has invited companies to second as many as 100 employees to work in the NCSC to allow it to collaborate with business to combat cyber crime.

“The government cannot protect businesses and the general public from the risks of cyber-attack on its own,” Hammond will say. “It has to be a team effort. It is only in this way that we can stay one step ahead of the scale and pace of the threat we face.”

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