Working from home leaves companies more vulnerable to cyber hacks, tech giant warns

For companies who reckon working from hope offers a flawless future, NCC delivered a stark warning today.

The tech company specialises in cyber security services, a market it estimates was already growing at around 8-9% a before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Today it said: “The impact of the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of cloud services by many firms and driven a significant increase in home working, all of which introduces further cyber risk into the operations of our customers and target market.”

NCC estimates global online security breaches continue to rise at more than 20 a year, and reckons the financial and reputational fallout of such hacks are becoming worse.

The company posted respectable annual results for the year to May 31 – with revenues up 5.2% at £263.7 million and profits rising 7.3% to £19.1 million – and believes that, despite some clients facing strife, demand is building up.

Shore Capital analyst Robin Speakman said: “We note that the pandemic, in changing working practices and opening up new threats, has advanced technological demands. The demand outlook for services therefore appears very robust to us.

“Whilst a wide range of outcomes is possible for the current year, we note that NCC’s operational transformation and business improvement plan continues apace.”

The shares, still a way off 2016 highs of 350p, gained 5% at 187p today, valuing the company at around £525 million.

Hotels group PPHE said it had slumping into the red, making a £40.7 million first-half loss as lockdown forced its sites to close. The owner of Park Plaza UK hotels, which has seven venues in the capital, said revenues dropped to £61.9 million from £155.3 million a year earlier.

Finance chief Daniel Kos said in London there remains “very little corporate demand” currently as people continue to work from home, but he said he has confidence in the capital to bounceback. The company has seen more customers book last minute, using flexible options, as holidaymakers try to account for the threat of Covid quarantines. PPHE shares improved 10.52p to 1060.52p.

The FTSE 100 stepped up 51.02 points to 5991.97 as rising hopes of political agreement over a US relief fund, and positivity around France’s economic stimulus buoyed markets. Lenders Barclays and NatWest were among the biggest risers, up 3% at 107p and 3% to 108p respectively.

Trading firm CMC Markets was also on rise – up 6% at 330p – as it said momentum seen during lockdown, as existing and new clients bet on volatile markets, had continued, and it said income would come in at the upper end of the City’s forecast range of £282 million to £300 million.

Small-cap spotlight

Music streaming specialist 7Digital today followed up a strong recent run by raising £6 million. The company holds a music catalogue and helps brands develop streaming services, ensuring rights are paid to artists. The 2.25p a share raise, aided by broker Arden Partners, will help the company expand in social media — it recently won a contract with Tik Tok-rival Triller — and home fitness, using music in apps. The shares, which shot up from 0.23p last month, today edged down 0.36p to 2.59p.