Kent businesses are among Britain’s most vulnerable victims of cybercrime, online fraud and scams. And the risk is growing by the day.
That was the stark warning from Det Insp Lee Morton of the Kent and Essex Police Serious Economic Crime Unit, the keynote speaker at Wealden Business Group’s forum on cybercrime, held at the Little Silver Country Hotel on Wednesday (22nd March).
DI Morton said that small businesses were particularly vulnerable, because of myths about the dangers. For instance, attitudes such as….
“I don’t have anything worth stealing”
“My company is too small for a cybercriminal to bother me”, and
“Cyber protection is too expensive.”
He said: “Criminals can now make as much money from sitting at a computer – perhaps a profit of £10,000 a day – rather than take the risk of robbing a bank”.
He added that in the past six months alone, Kent police had received more than 8,000 reports of fraud across the county, involving the loss of some £12 million.
Criminals were increasingly buying Ransomware off the ‘dark web’, enabling them to freeze business computers by encrypting their data until a ransom is paid.
They were also infiltrating suppliers’ computer systems to find out their clients’ bank details.
He urged all companies to train staff in cybersecurity, and recommended the following methods of making computer systems safer…
- Download software updates as soon as they appear.
- Delete suspicious emails immediately.
- Use anti-virus software.
- Use a separate credit card for online transactions.
- Lock your screen if you are away from your desk.
- Don’t plug memory sticks into USB ports unless you know their origin – and, in particular, don’t allow anyone to charge their phone via your computer’s USB port.
- Passwords of less than eight characters are virtually useless – change them immediately.
- Passwords should be a mix of upper and lower case, letters, numbers and symbols.
- Identify the top five data files on your system which could be useful to a competitor or a criminal, and double protect them.
He particularly recommended registering with Cyber Essentials (www.cyberessentials.org) , the government’s recommended basic standard of protection.
WBG member Jacqui Offen of J & J Systems UK, managed IT service providers, reiterated how easy it was for criminals to target businesses using ransomware and hijack browsers or internet-enabled devices, enabling them to watch you, steal from your password, money from your bank, or, even more sinister, watch your webcams or CCTV images.
She urged everyone to back up their data and, in the event of suspicious online activity, change passwords and PINs, contact the bank and online merchants, and check credit card and bank statements.
She also recommended checking social media settings before posting, particularly when on holiday.
The workshop also heard from WBG member Simon Hammond of Morpheus Insurance, who explained that cyber Insurance to protect against cybercrime is the fastest-growing sector of the insurance market.
He said: “Factor in an average cybercrime cost of between £75-£310,000 for small and medium enterprises, and you begin to understand the risk that cyber-attacks pose to the viability of your business.”
The cybercrime forum was one of a series of events open to both members and non-members of Wealden Business Group – previous workshops have focussed on Excel spreadsheets and LinkedIn.