The majority of businesses in the UK could be putting their networks at risk because they are not following their own best practices, it has been claimed.

A new study by ESET and Kingston Digital revealed there is a large disconnect between IT teams that put in place guidelines to ensure systems are protected and the business units and employees that are expected to follow these plans.

Overall, it revealed as many as seven out of ten firms are failing to take the necessary steps to ensure they do not fall victim to a data breach.

One particular area of concern is how employees connect external devices to their network, as nearly half of firms are not taking adequate precautions to secure removable gadgets when they are connected.

For example, 44 per cent of businesses admitted they do not secure devices such as USB sticks using antivirus software, which means their IT systems could be exposed to cybersecurity risks and the potential for large fines from GDPR and other regulations.

This may be an increasingly important consideration for many firms as the number of connected devices attached to their network grows. In addition to USB devices and mobile gadgets such as smartphones, a range of Internet of Things tools, from printers to environmental sensors, will be added to firms' IT estates in the coming years, and many of these may be easy targets for hackers.

Cybersecurity specialist at ESET Jake Moore said that while it is positive that British businesses have taken the first steps by putting in place best practice policies, they need to move beyond this.

"Putting together the best practice guidelines is, of course, the first step. However, more needs to be done," he said. "IT teams must work closely with other departments to ensure employees are following the guidelines on a day-to-day basis and they have the right tools to protect their work and the entire organisation."

Mr Moore added that all it may take to bring down an entire IT network is one infected device. "When it comes to security, companies need to be 100 per cent secure and recognise that there is no room for error." 

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