Three quarters (76%) of senior leaders at UK companies that fell victim to cybercrime last year reported suffering emotional distress because of the attack on their businesses, according to a survey commissioned by Beaming, the business ISP.
Beaming’s study, which is published ahead of European Cybersecurity Month – the EU’s annual awareness campaign that takes place each October across Europe – involved interviews with hundreds of UK-based business leaders at companies that were victims of cybercrime in 2018.
It found that a quarter (23%) of those surveyed experienced heightened levels of anger as a result of the attack. A fifth said they felt shocked (20%) or worried (also 20%). One in six (17%) leaders said they panicked after discovering that they had succumbed to a cyber attack.
The study also showed that business leaders at larger companies are more likely to experience some form of emotional distress due to a cyber attack. 89% of leaders at large companies (250+ people) admitted to experiencing emotions associated with depression and anxiety following their attack. This compared to 86% of leaders at medium businesses (50-249 employees), 80% at small companies (10-49 employees) and 53% of bosses at micro firms (1-9 employees).
Leaders at large businesses were most likely to experience shock (28%), anxiety (23%) or nervousness (also 23%) as a result of becoming a victim of cybercrime. A quarter of bosses at medium sized businesses reported feeling depressed (26%) after an attack.
Previous research from Beaming indicates that a third (33 percent) of UK businesses fell victim to cybercrime in 2018, costing them £17 billion in damaged assets, financial penalties and downtime. Although large businesses succumbed at the highest rate, with 73% of companies employing more than 250 people being hit, the number of small companies falling victim reached the highest level (63%) since Beaming started surveying business leaders in 2016.
Sonia Blizzard, Managing Director of Beaming, commented: “Most businesses have recognised for some time now that being hit by cybercrime can have a devastating impact on their finances, productivity and reputation. Our survey shows that it can also have a harmful psychological impact on the people that run businesses.”
“Most business leaders are concerned by the potential for data breaches, ransomware and other cyber threats, and when the companies they lead fall victim they often experience symptoms associated with emotional trauma. More research is needed to identify quite how damaging this can be, but it is clear that many businesses need to do more to enhance the resilience of their cybersecurity systems.”