Public Services > Central Government

One in four public sector bodies ill-prepared for cyber-attack, survey suggests

David Bicknell Published 06 November 2017

Trends report from software company Advanced highlights continued concerns about whether the public sector is taking cyber security seriously and if organisations will be GDPR-ready


A survey by software and services company Advanced has reiterated the now familiar refrain that public sector organisations are unprepared for a cyber attack.

According to the Advanced Trends Report 2017 , nearly one in four (23%) public sector organisations in the UK are unprepared for a cyber-attack.

The survey of over 1,000 professionals in UK organisations is the second to be commissioned by British software and services company Advanced, and like a report last year , it reveals how organisations are grappling with a changing business and societal landscape that includes increased cyber security threats, Brexit and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 

“WannaCry caused massive disruption in the public sector, perhaps unnecessarily after a new government report has found the NHS attack could have been avoided,” said Nick Wilson, managing director, Public Sector, Health & Care, at Advanced. “But an alarming number of organisations are still ill-prepared six months on. Our research shows a marked improvement (18%) when compared to last year’s results (28% were not ready for a cyber-attack in 2016). However, in this digital era, it’s critical every single organisation makes data security a top priority and indeed a deciding factor when adopting new technology.”

When asked about which technology public sector organisations are actively using, 67% say they are investing in Cloud-based systems (a 7% increase from last year). Some are still in the decision-making process, with a separate Advanced report revealing that 33% are looking or planning to adopt Cloud technology in the near future.

The survey discusses the digital transformation of public services, for which it argues, “the Cloud is fundamental.” It highlights the Government Transformation Strategy, announced earlier this year, which wants to make some of the most high volume services ‘digital by default’. However, the Trends survey found that 81% of organisations don’t believe the government has provided enough budget to implement the digital agenda.

On the level of readiness for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), 25% of respondents revealed they were either unsure or not confident their organisation is going to be ready for the deadline, highlighting another significant risk to businesses in 2018.

The survey also revealed how the potential repercussions of Brexit are leaving a sour taste, with well over half (60%) of organisations seeing Brexit as a threat and 51% admitting they are not prepared for any post-Brexit budget cuts.

On cyber security, Julian David, techUK’s chief executive, concluded, “It’s no longer a question of whether or not your company will experience a cyber-attack, but rather when it will be attacked. That is why it is so important that cyber security is a top level priority for organisations, from the boardroom down. Organisations that prioritise security can confidently adopt new technologies, from cloud to IoT to AI, which facilitate innovation and help them grow their businesses.”

Tom Thackray, CBI’s director for innovation, added: “Without strengthened efforts to improve cyber security the undoubted potential of the UK’s digital economy will be unfulfilled. Cyber resilience is increasingly important for all companies across the economy. They must continue to move from awareness to action, by ensuring cyber security is a board level priority and making the right investments for their digital future.”


We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.