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Cybercrime on the rise - from FSB First Voice magazine

Lee Evans
Lee Evans02.10.2016

There was an interesting article in the most recent edition of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) First Voice magazine that caught my eye and I thought worth referencing here on the Vital blog.

As the trusted technology partner for a wide and diverse range of businesses, IT and data security is a significant consideration and fundamental part of what we do on a daily basis. As well as some of our specialist IT and network security services, in some way security underpins just about all of the services we offer.

Not only do we deal with a wide and diverse range of businesses, but the approach and attention these businesses give to IT security is equally wide ranging! Some of our clients take their IT security very seriously - from the top of the organisation down. For others, IT and information security measures can be seen as more of an inconvenience than a necessity!

The article, titled "CYBERCRIME ON THE RISE", raised a number of important points that should be of interest to any business owner or manager and which highlight the risk - and potential cost - facing businesses from IT security breach.

Unfortunately, we live and operate our businesses in a world where our IT systems and electronic data are under serious threat, 24 hours a day; IT security should now be a board-level discussion topic for every business that genuinely wishes to do all it can to protect itself, its customers and its data.

Some of the key points I picked out from the article:

  • UK businesses lost more than 1 BILLION(!!!!!) pounds to cyber crime in the year to March 2016 (from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau).
  • Actually, this is based only on known and reported incidents, so the real total is likely to be much, much higher
  • The number of Cybercrimes reported in the same period rose by 22% on the same period just 12 months earlier

Whilst the article focusses on and highlights in particular the risk of fraud based Cybercrimes targetted against retailers, I was surprised that the article did not discuss the huge proliferation of "crypto" style infections affecting businesses.

"Crypto" is a (relatively) new and definitely en-vogue style of virus which locks users and businesses out of their own data by infecting a system and encrypting (hence the term "crypto") any files it finds. Affected users can get their files back, by coughing up a 'ransom' (anywhere from £100 up to £thousands) to the originators of the attack for the decryption password.

These crypto attacks are widely understood to be the most significant and common IT threat impacting businesses today

  • According to prominent Anti-Virus developer Kaspersky labs, nearly 1 million users were hit with a crypto infection in the 12 months to March 2016 and they have labelled it "an epidemic"
  • In two particularly high profile case, US medical centre "Hollywood Presbyterian" paid seventeen THOUSAND dollars to recover their files whilst the University of Calgary paid twenty THOUSAND dollars to attackers to be able to recover their files

Crypto attacks are a threat to all UK businesses - from highly targetted, tailored and (sometimes, incredibly) well engineered attacks against specific organisations to the widespread scatter-gun approach of mass / SPAM emails & infections through compromised websites.

Whilst it's definitely an up-hill battle, the good news is that there are a handful of relatively simple, and widely recognised "basics" that every organisation can implement which can significantly reduce your risk and exposure to crypto and other common malware and virus infections.

Why not download our free check-list, "7 Security Basics to Prevent Crypto Infections", to find out the most simple and effective measures you can take to protect your business?

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