Number of UK financial services firms’ reports of data breaches rises steeply in 2018

Maria Nikolova

The number of data breaches reported by UK financial services firms to the FCA jumped 480% year-on-year in 2018, according to research by RPC.

The number of data breaches reported by UK financial services firms to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) increased 480% in 2018, reaching 145, according to research from City-headquartered law firm RPC.

This number compares to just 25 such reports in 2017, RPC notes. Across segments, the retail banking sector registered the largest percentage increase in the number of data breach reports, rising to 25 in 2018 from only one in 2017. This could raise concerns about the increasing number of cyber criminals targeting bank accounts.

RPC says that wholesale financial markets firms, such as investment banks, reported the most data breaches to the FCA in 2018, reporting 34 times, up from just three in 2017.

Other sectors within financial services that saw large increases in data breach reports include:

  • Insurers – 33 in 2018, up from seven in 2017;
  • Consumer retail lending – 21 in 2018, up from four in 2017;
  • Retail investments – 11 in 2018, up from none in 2017.

RPC notes that whereas the data suggest that financial services businesses are registering a growing number of cyber-attacks, these businesses are also perhaps getting better at identifying and reporting those attacks.

The latest data are in line with numbers disclosed by the FCA in November last year. Back then, the regulator posted the results of a survey dedicated to cyber and technology resilience, with the findings pointing to a rising number of tech outages in the financial services sector.

The survey covered 296 firms and assessed their technology and cyber capabilities. Firms self-assessed their capabilities and the FCA then analyzed the responses for each firm and across sectors.

The survey showed cyber-attacks accounted for 18% of the operational incidents reported to the FCA between October 2017 and September 2018. Technology outages in the financial services sector are becoming more frequent. The number of such incidents reported to the FCA has increased by 138% in the year to September 2018.

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