1 in 10 Business Leaders Don’t Even Know They’ve Been Hacked

Our inaugural report reveals an alarming amount of business leaders know little of their company's cybersecurity landscape.

More than 1 in 10 business leaders are “unsure” if their company has had a data breach in 2023, recent findings from Tech.co’s Impact of Technology on the Workplace report has revealed.

While the vast majority of businesses reported that their security systems had stood firm against cyberattacks and data breaches last year, people occupying leadership positions aren’t receiving sufficient information about their company’s data security situation.

It’s one of the many worrying cybersecurity statistics our survey brings to light and you can still download the full report free to see all our original insights.

Business Leaders Don’t Know They’ve Suffered a Data Breach

For Tech.co’s inaugural Impact of Technology on the Workplace report, we surveyed over 1,000 business leaders working in a variety of industries to find out more about how old and new technologies are influencing their operations and processes.

For our business security section, we asked all the businesses participating in our survey whether they’d suffered a data breach. The vast majority of key decision makers (77%) reported they had not suffered a data breach, while 11.6% said they had.

However, a similar percentage of business leaders (11%) said they were unsure whether their company had suffered a data breach during the year 2023 – which is a surprisingly high figure considering the ramifications such an attack can have on businesses.

graph showing percentages of businesses that did or did not suffer a breach in 2023.

Why Is This Important?

As the report notes, when a data breach occurs, there’s a whole range of things that you have to do in the aftermath. For example, in some US states, such as California, laws dictate that you must notify your customers in the event of a data breach.

There are also various steps you’ll have to take to limit the damage caused by the attack – and you’ll have to get the ball rolling sharpish to ensure its effective.

For instance, you might have to reset every end user’s authentication credentials or patch the vulnerability that allowed a threat actor to access your data in the first place. If the threat is persistent, you might even have to flush them out of the company systems.

The point is that all key decision-makers at any given business should be aware of the major threats facing their business, whether they’re political, economic, or in this case, digital.

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Responding to a breach is an all-hands-on-deck operation. The 11% of business leaders who aren’t sure whether this is happening are either being kept in the dark by their employees about a breach that has occurred, meaning they probably haven’t followed the correct company (or even legal) protocols that govern such situations, or they don’t have enough oversight over their own business’s security operations to say confidently that they’ve had a threat-free 2023.

Other Cybersecurity Trends to Know for 2024

While a significant proportion of business leaders being unsure whether they’d been hacked was certainly one of the more surprising findings from our survey, it wasn’t the only informative trend that businesses should be aware of.

For instance, while the threat of ransomware gangs and other cybercriminals loom large for businesses of all sizes, businesses concerned about their security situation should first look inwards – human error is still the key reason behind most data breaches. 

chart showing the most common causes of data breaches

23% of businesses that told us they suffered a breach traced it back to a phishing attack, while a further 12% put it down to employee error, such as sending an email to the wrong person. “Computer viruses”, such as malware and ransomware, were the culprit in 22% of cases – and to work, they often rely on humans making mistakes.

Crucially, educating your staff so they can spot the telltale signs that an email might be suspicious is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your business – even in a world where AI is making them harder to spot. You could have the fanciest firewall in the world, but if your employees are trained properly, the investment will all be in vain.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is Tech.co's Content Manager. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol six years ago. Aaron's focus areas include VPNs, cybersecurity, AI and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, Lifewire, HR News and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.
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