Cyber Crime a higher risk than nuclear war…
The recent E-crime Home Affairs Report has sent shockwaves through the UK business-world, with the conclusion that Britain is losing the fight against cyber crime, now considered a bigger threat to the nation than nuclear war.
But, says Lifeline IT founder and director Daniel Mitchell, what has not been as widely reported is the committee’s findings that 80% of cyber-attacks could be stopped through ‘basic information risk management’ and that many companies do not even know they are victims because of the rise in e-crimes based on stealing small amounts from multiple targets.
“Businesses reading this may well be victims of e-crime themselves but are not aware they are because the amounts involved are negligible. The report called this the ‘black hole’, where low level e-crimes are committed undetected because they are high volume but low in monetary terms,” said Daniel.
“But it’s not only stealing from your business, whether it’s money, intellectual property or commercially sensitive information, if you’re dealing with customers, they are also at risk and that is also your responsibility.
“We advise a huge number of our financial and retail clients on how to build their IT infrastructure securely and it is something that you need to re-visit frequently because e-criminals are constantly creating new ways to get into your systems.
“It can be catastrophic if they do. When cyber thieves hacked the financial details of 23,000 Sony customers, it cost them $172 million and a 9% drop in share price before it was put right.”
And Lifeline IT’s own research backs the report findings. Its annual IT Trends survey revealed that 60% of companies admitted they felt unprepared to tackle cyber-crime, with the majority most at risk being SMEs.
Now Lifeline IT, which develops and manages IT infrastructure for companies across sectors including retail, finance and property, is urging businesses to protect themselves from the e-bandits.
“It’s not all gloom and doom. What is very apparent from the report is that companies are not taking even basic precautions and if they did, 80% of e-crimes could be avoided,” said Daniel.
He outlines five key steps that businesses can take to protect themselves:
- Keep your infrastructure defence systems such as firewalls up to date.
- Identify what IT is critical to your business and have a recovery plan in case of hacking for both yourself and your customers.
- Have a security policy throughout your business and ensure employees adhere to it, in and outside the office.
- Be e-crime aware and on your guard. Do you know what ‘clickjacking’ or ‘phishing’ is. If not, you should.
- Review your security on a monthly basis, cyber criminals act quickly and you need to as well.
“A good starting point is to check whether small amounts have gone missing in your own or customer transactions, to check that a cyber-thief isn’t already in your system,” said Daniel.
“Then review all the technology you use and how you use it. Our trend survey showed that 44% of people use their smartphone for work rather than a landline. Do you have a policy for that and what happens if it gets lost? Are there sensitive emails on it or other information?
“Go back to basics. We found that one in five companies had used the word ‘password’ as their ‘password’. You might as well just keep the office doors unlocked!”
UK SMEs have some of the worst network security in Europe, with 25% admitting that security breaches had led to a loss of business and almost a quarter of small companies having no security software at all.
Other findings from the Lifeline IT survey showed that a third store their passwords in their mobiles and seven per cent with instructions that came with their PC or laptop.
More than two-thirds of us are still office-bound but over 43% spend a substantial amount of time on the road working on the hoof and almost half use a lap top instead of PCs.
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