Not something to be proud of…:
Cambridgeshire has the unwanted distinction of being the UK’s fastest-growing hotspot for cyber crime, after the number of attacks in the county increased by 49% over a three-year period.
Figures from the ONS (Office of National Statistics) show that security incidents in Cambridgeshire increased from 2,789 in 2016 to 4,155 in 2018.
Although the total number of attacks trails the Thames Valley – which saw 11,232 attacks per year on average – Cambridgeshire had the fastest rate of increase and largest total per capita.
In 2018, Cambridgeshire saw 63.7 cyber attacks per 10,000 people, compared to 48 per 10,000 in the Thames Valley.
The next most densely populated regions for cyber crime were Leicestershire (59.2) and Nottinghamshire (56.4).
What is happening in Cambridgeshire?
At first glance, these figures – which were collated by the Internet service provider Fasthosts – suggest that Cambridgeshire is some sort of Wild West for cyber crime.
Attacks in the region have skyrocketed in recent years, with only North Wales (+47%) seeing a comparable increase.
One reason to account for this is that the timeframe of this analysis coincides with major economic growth in the region.
In 2017, Cambridge became the fastest-growing city in the UK, with businesses attracted to its proximity to London and the North, as well as its highly educated workforce.
The city trails only Edinburgh in terms of residents who are educated to undergraduate degree-level, making it an ideal spot for organisations in technical industries, such as biotech, digital innovation and medicine.
And, of course, Cambridge is home of one of the most world’s prestigious universities, with its various colleges employing almost 8,000 academic and more than 3,500 administrative staff.
Unfortunately, these sectors are especially prone to cyber attacks due to the sensitive information that they keep.
For example, the pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, which is based in Cambridge, was last year imitated in a sophisticated phishing scam targeting job seekers.
Meanwhile, universities have long been considered a cyber security liability, due to budgetary constraints and their necessarily wide networks.
In 2019, Jist – the agency that provides Internet services to UK universities and researcher centres – put 50 universities’ cyber security practices to the test, and found that their team of ethical hackers breached every one within two hours.