A quarter of social housing organisations hit by cyber-attacks in 2020

A quarter of housing associations have suffered a cyber attack in the last 12 months, but only seven per cent lost money, according to the findings taken from RSM’s Health of the Social Housing Sector 2021 survey

The latest survey highlighted that 23 per cent of housing associations in the UK had suffered a cyber-attack, which is down on last year at 29 per cent – suggesting an improvement in controls across the sector. 

Almost a third (30 per cent) of housing associations are pushing ahead with modular build developments which is a slight increase when compared to last year at 28 per cent; but the majority of the sector remain reluctant to consider it as a viable option. 

The impact of Brexit is still being felt with 40 per cent expecting a negative impact; but confusion remains as over a third (36 per cent) don’t know how Brexit will impact their organisations. The main impact is being felt in the cost (68 per cent) and access to materials (65 per cent) with the greatest number of responses; followed closely by labour storages at 63 per cent. 

Interestingly, 57 per cent expect no change to development plans following the introduction of the Social Housing White Paper and 66 per cent will not be making changes to health and safety reporting and related customer concerns following the new code of governance. In addition, the majority (73 per cent) of social housing organisations will be significantly embracing environment and social governance factors this year. 

Keith Ward, head of social housing at RSM said: ‘It’s great to see the number of cyber attacks has decreased; however, we do know that cyber criminals are getting increasingly more sophisticated and housing associations will continue to be a target; so ongoing vigilance; staff training; and investment in operational controls will be key to mitigating risk.  

‘Year on year we are seeing more social housing organisations consider modular build and with increased support from the government and funders, we expected this to play a greater role in addressing the housing shortage over the coming years. 

‘The fallout of Brexit collided with the Covid-19 pandemic and acutely impacted supply chain management for social housing organisations. When you combine this with a labour storage it will be interesting to see if the rate of development will slow in 2021; and if the government will step in with additional support to help bridge the gap.  

‘What impact of the Social Housing White Paper and new Code of Governance which comes into effect 31 March will have on current plans and governance structures seems muted; but we believe this shows the sector has anticipated the changes and is on the front foot to complying with the new rules; so the changes will be less intense due to preparedness.’