All types of business vulnerable to cyber attacks

The extent and variety of UK organisations that have been subjected to cyber attacks has caught the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) by surprise, its director general for cyber security has admitted.

As reports, Ciaran Martin believes that British businesses should learn from what has gone before, but he acknowledged that the sheer number of attacks is causing vulnerability.

Speaking at Infosecurity Europe 2015 in London, Martin said the range of attacks – with some taking a "scatter gun" approach, whilst others are more targeted – means that it is now less about preventing a breach and more about reducing their impact.

"Nowadays it is not always about stopping attacks always and everywhere. There are too many of them and some will get through," he said.

Determined hackers will always find a way to breach an organisation's network, meaning that firms should try and work out what it wants to defend the most and behave accordingly, Martin explained.

"I have lost count of the number of times we have gone into organisations at their request and had to advise them to work out what matters to them the most," he added.

Martin suggested organisations now have little choice but to accept that they are vulnerable to attack and to make sure they have a contingency plan in place in order to keep the business going.

However, businesses can lessen the chances of a serious breach by ensuring their employees are "seriously engaged" about cyber security, Martin stressed.