Microsoft report says UK is not prepared for the age of AI — barely any businesses are ‘resilient’ to cybercrime

UK Cyber
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New research has found that 87% of UK businesses are unprepared for the age of AI due to their vulnerability to cyberattacks.

A report from Microsoft found just 13% of UK businesses can be described as ‘resilient’ to cybercrime, putting over three quarters of firms at a higher risk of crippling and costly ransomware attacks.

Investments made into integrating AI into cyber defences could contribute £52 billion back into the UK economy due to the increased resilience AI can provide.

‘Global AI superpower’

The UK has some significant hurdles to overcome if the government is to meet its commitment to become a ‘global AI superpower’ within 10 years, as the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport intends.

Microsoft's research found thousands of businesses in the UK could be susceptible to a devastating cyberattack, with 48% ranked as ‘vulnerable’ while a further 39% are ranked as ‘at high risk’.

Therefore, businesses need to do more to integrate AI into their cyber defences in order to ‘fight fire with fire’, as hackers increasingly turn to AI in order to boost both the quality and quantity of their attacks.

The research was conducted by Dr Chris Brauer of the University of London in collaboration with Microsoft, and surveyed over 1,000 cybersecurity experts, employees, and senior leaders of private and public sector organisations.

Britain currently sits at the top in the global rankings of cybersecurity, but much more needs to be done to secure businesses, and the potential £52 billion annual dividend that could massively benefit the UK economy.

In order to get there though, 69% of those surveyed believe that in order to become an ‘AI superpower’, Britain also needs to bolster its defenses to meet this goal. Effectively, an AI superpower must also be a cybersecurity superpower.

“Cyber criminals, some armed with the resources of a nation state, are ‘tooling up’ with AI to increase the sophistication and intensity of their attacks,” said Paul Kelly, Director of the Security Business Group at Microsoft UK. “This research outlines 52 billion reasons for organisational leaders to ‘fight fire with fire’.”

“The same AI technologies can help leaders better secure their organisation and tip the balance back in their favour. AI has the potential to make your business and data more secure, but also, if a cyberattack were to occur, to lessen the impact on your bottom line.”

Alongside the research, the report also provides five opportunities for the UK to meet the goal of becoming both an AI and cybersecurity superpower:

  • Greater support for the adoption of AI in the cybersecurity industry, and greater innovation in the way it is used.
  • Greater investment and prioritization in the AI solutions offered to organizations, with a preference for buy-and-build and off-the-shelf solutions.
  • Greater use of upskilling through private-public partnerships with academic institutions and the use of skills programmes and on-the-job training.
  • Greater research and knowledge sharing with the private sector in order to cultivate a culture of cyber resilience built on the expertise of the pros, while also investing in entrepreneurship and R&D.
  • Greater guidance on the adoption of AI in order to foster safe practice in both public and private industries such as healthcare, finance, and defense.

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Benedict is mainly focused on security issues such as phishing, malware, and cyber criminal activity, but also likes to draw on his knowledge of geopolitics and international relations to understand the motivations and consequences of state-sponsored cyber attacks. Benedict has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham.