Almost half of businesses in the UK are at risk of cyber attacks by having unknown devices on their network, according to research by Forescout.
Of the 5.7 million businesses in Britain, 49% are in danger, the cybersecurity firm said, marking a significant increase of 110,000 from similar research in the year previous.
The main issue for firms is the increasing number of Internet of Things (IoT) and operational technology (OT) devices connected to their networks. More than two-thirds (69%) of organisations say they now have more than 1,000 connected devices, with one-in-five admitting they now have more than 10,000 connected devices.
While the survey, conducted by Censuswide, found that 85% of CIOs and IT decision makers acknowledge that a lack of visibility and control of these devices poses a threat, 1.6% of UK businesses admit they still have no cybersecurity protocols to protect themselves in this regard.
Forescout also found that the convergence of IT and OT can create “security blind spots that leave organisations vulnerable.”
The majority of IT decision makers (58%) believe that having a centralised approach to IT and OT security will protect businesses against vulnerabilities. However, only 49% have implemented such an approach within their own organisation.
Myles Bray, VP of EMEA at Forescout, commented: “Our latest research shows that, despite various new regulatory benchmarks and many notable attacks on industry giants in the past twelve months, UK businesses are still painfully unaware of the huge threat vector that connected devices presents.
“To properly protect themselves, it is imperative that organisations in the UK are able to not only identify but also fully manage and control every single third-party device that accesses their network.”
Forescout’s research follows similar analysis from digital security specialists, Gemalto, which found that less than half of businesses can detect if any of their IoT devices have suffered a breach.
Spending on IoT device protection has increased, according to Gemalto, from 11% of IoT budgets in 2017 to 13%.
Additionally, nearly all respondents (90%) believe IoT security is a huge consideration for customers, and almost three times as many consumers now see IoT security as an ethical responsibility (14%) compared to a year ago (4%).
The survey also found that companies across the world are calling on governments to intervene in this area, with 79% asking for more robust guidelines on IoT security, and 59% seeking advice on who is responsible for protecting devices.
In Scotland, Glasgow-based firm Boston Networks revealed this month that it will work with the Scottish Government to create guidelines on the use of IoT devices.
As part of the £6 million project, IoT Scotland will offer businesses advice on how to monitor the efficiency and security of their devices.