Data breaches are constantly on the rise, and cybersecurity is an ever-evolving battle. In the UK in 2019, almost a third of UK businesses identified cyber security breaches – and it adds up, with attacks costing them an average of £4,180 per year.

But are there any patterns to these attacks? Are some areas more vulnerable than others, regardless of their population? We look at ONS data to see which areas of the UK suffer the most from cyber attacks.

Safety in numbers?

As you might expect, many of the areas with the largest populations came quite high on the list. In districts that are built up, with high concentrations of commercial buildings, the opportunity for data theft is pushed higher. These larger cities also tend to experience the fastest commercial growth, so it comes as no surprise that cyber crime has grown rapidly along with it.

Cambridgeshire sits at the top of the list, with a staggering 49% uplift in cyber crime from 2016-2018. With Cambridge itself experiencing rapid economic growth – being crowned the fastest-growing city in 2017 and staying in the top three since – it’s unsurprising that the new business and expanding population is leading to a higher rate of cyber crime.

Spikes in strange places

But it’s not always so cut and dry – other areas with far lower or more rural populations have also seen quite significant growth in cases, such as North Wales. Despite having a far smaller population than the top spot, it falls in at second place with 47% growth over the three year period.

On the other side of the coin, more populated areas are experiencing slower growth in cyber crime than you might expect. The West Midlands and Greater Manchester are both quite high in population – 5.9 million and 2.8 million respectively – but sit lower down the list, with Greater Manchester experiencing half as much growth in cyber crime compared to Cambridgeshire and its population of 650,000.

How to combat cyber threats

Though there are some surprises in this data, one thing can’t be disputed – cyber crime is growing rapidly across the country, and will continue to grow. Even Dorset, with the lowest reported growth in cyber crime, is reported to be at 22% growth over the three year period.

So how do you avoid these kinds of attacks? It’s easier than you think to take the first steps towards protecting yourself.

To see the full set of data, our interactive map will show you exactly where the cyber crime hotspots are in the UK. Simply click to see details about each area, as well as seeing the whole story by opening the full table.