Almost half of all crime in the UK is connected directly or indirectly with cyber crime, according to the Office for National Statistics.
And a survey by the British Chambers of Commerce, published this week, reveals that one-in-five businesses have fallen victim to cyber attacks in the past year.
Big businesses are more than twice as likely as smaller firms to be targeted, and 21% of businesses believe the threat of cyber-crime is inhibiting growth.
The survey of nearly 1,300 businesses also found that only a quarter have cyber security accreditations.
But of those that do, almost half believe it gives them a competitive advantage over unaccredited rivals.
Details of the Government-sponsored Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus accreditations are available here.
Rob Johnston, Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Firms need to be proactive about protecting themselves.
“Cyber-attacks risk companies’ finances, confidence and reputation, with victims reporting disruption to their business and productivity.
“Cyber-attacks risk companies’ finances, confidence and reputation, with victims reporting disruption to their business and productivity.”
“Accreditations can help businesses assess their own IT infrastructure, defend against cyber-security breaches and mitigate the damage caused by an attack. They can also increase confidence among clients.
“The Chamber holds the ISO 27001 accreditation, which gives organisations dealing with us complete confidence that their data is secure.”
He added: “Companies are reporting a reliance on IT support providers to resolve cyber-attacks.
“More guidance from government and police about where and how to report attacks would provide businesses with a clear path to follow in the event of a cyber-security breach, and increase clarity around the response options available to victims, which would help minimise the occurrence of cybercrime.”
Meanwhile, the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017 has revealed that the average cost of cyber breaches to businesses is £20,000, but in some cases the figure can reach millions.
The survey also shows that personal data is still a lure for criminals, with businesses holding electronic personal data on customers much more likely to suffer cyber breaches than those that don’t.
The most common attacks detected were via fraudulent emails – for example coaxing staff into revealing passwords or financial information, or opening dangerous attachments – followed by viruses, malware, and ransomware.
And IBM found that 60 per cent of all cyber attacks were internal, carried out by people working within the organisation.
Businesses that have fallen victim to cyber crime can report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, by clicking here.
Ten tips to protect against cyber crime
1. Use a strong password
Use a minimum of 10 characters or a string of words that you will remember. Include characters and symbols. Consider replacing letters with similar looking numbers, for example replace ‘E’ with ‘3’ and ‘A’ with ‘@’, or use words in a foreign language.
2. Install anti-virus software
Computers are generally set to do this automatically, but don’t ignore the prompts to update when they flash up, do it straight away.
3. Keep software and apps up to date
You will see notifications of updates as pop-ups or an alert at your app store, don’t ignore. These are often security fixes so update as soon as possible.
4. Think about what information you put online
If you wouldn’t make it public knowledge in the real world, don’t put it online. Cyber criminals search for info that could allow them to impersonate you.
5. Verify who an email is from before responding
If it looks suspicious, delete or check with the sender using another means of contact. Don’t reply directly to the suspect email.
6. Never click on links in emails unless you are certain who it is from
These could contain malicious software, which could compromise your computer systems and confidential information.
7. Back-up important information regularly
If you have important documents or photographs, which you wouldn’t want to lose, back these up on a memory stick or hard drive.
8. Don’t pass sensitive information over public wi-fi
It can be easy for a criminal to access public wi-fi with the intention of capturing user names and passwords.
9. Consider encrypting confidential data
If you are sending confidential data or personal information, encrypting it will make it a lot more secure.
10. Promote a good information security culture
Make sure staff are aware of the risks and simple steps to take to protect against cyber threats.© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce