Cyber crime has been identified as one of the biggest criminal threats to British business and the British economy, according to a new report by the government.

The report, ‘A Call to Action: The Cyber Aware Perception Gap’, highlights that there is a  growing gap between the real nature of the threat and public perceptions, which is putting businesses at risk.

Introducing the report, minister of state for security and economic crime Ben Wallace said that many public organisations and SMEs “vastly underestimate the risk of cyber crime and feel powerless to protect themselves against it”.

He explained that there is a widespread belief that cyber criminals only target big businesses and celebrities. Mr Wallace added that there is a misconception that there are “few consequences” to being a victim of cyber crime, as well as a great deal of “inconsistent advice that leads to dangerous inertia”.

According to Mr Wallace, the perception gap is leaving businesses and infrastructure vulnerable as they are failing to follow basic online security protocols.

The report identifies three myths that prevent businesses and individuals from adopting behaviours that could protect them in an increasingly digitised and connected world: cyber crime isn’t ‘real crime’; it isn’t something to be concerned about; and there’s nothing more that people can do to protect themselves and their systems.

Industry trade body techUK said the report calls on businesses of all sizes to educate staff, clients and customers about “the very real risks of cyber crime and what can be done to help prevent it”.

The document recommends that users follow basic security guidance, including using strong and separate passwords, installing the latest software updates and backing up the most important data.

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