A new survey has found that 48 percent of U.K. factories have been hit by a cyberattack.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the data comes after more than 80 of the country’s manufacturing plants suffered cyber attacks, which could put critical national infrastructure at risk.
Utility, transport and health services have all been warned by British authorities that Russian hackers are taking advantage of unprotected networks.
“Russia has been probing us for years and years. This is far more than reconnaissance. Anyone who is burying their head in the sand and saying that Russia isn’t attacking us is mad,” said a cyber security expert at INSINIA Security.
The anonymous survey of almost 170 manufacturers also found that half of those who were hit with a cyber security incident also suffered some financial loss or disruption to business as a result.
“There seems little doubt that many more attacks will have gone undetected,” said Stephen Phipson of trade group EEF.
Even worse, EEF’s security expert says that some manufacturers may not even be aware their systems have been breached.
“There’s evidence out there that there is quite a lot of malware that is designed to sit in the background, not really do very much, while the person infected doesn’t even know that it is happening,” said Oliver Welch.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that critical companies in the United Kingdom could face a hefty fine — up to £17 million ($24 million) — if they don’t ensure that their cybersecurity systems are up to par.
Companies in energy, transport, water, health and other critical services will need to prove that their cybersecurity systems can fend off attacks. Some of the requirements for a strong cybersecurity system include “having the right people and organization in place to handle a cyberattack; having the right software in to protect against attacks; having the right capabilities in place to detect if an attack has taken place anyway; and having the right systems in place to minimize the impact of an attack if a system is breached (despite the other three being in place).”