Speakers at a recent seminar on preventing cyber-crime explained that digital security breaches pose a significant risk to businesses across the UK.

Impact of cyber attacks

Nicola Fulford, head of data protection and member of the cross-departmental cyber security team at Kemp Little, spoke at the seminar. She said that “the potential business impacts (of cyber-attacks) combined with increasing levels of awareness among consumers mean that no sensible business is still ignoring this threat.”

Digital security breaches present a particular risk to UK small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). A PriceWaterhouseCoopers survey sponsored by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, showed that hacks cost smaller businesses between £65,000 and £115,000. Furthermore, the study indicated that SMEs could suffer up to six breaches per annum.


“Street level” cyber-crime

Benedict Hamilton, managing director of investigations and disputes at consulting firm Kroll, also spoke at the event. He suggested that “street level” cyber-crime has expanded so rapidly in recent times, that small cyber-crime organisations are now operating in nearly every city in the UK.

He was quoted by Computer Weekly saying: “There are crime groups that are operating at similar levels of sophistication as state-sponsored cyber-attacks, but a lot of the cyber-crime we see requires very little skill to carry out. Today there are a growing number of automated cyber-crime tools available for free or very little cost and there are YouTube videos demonstrating how to use them.”


Common methods

Hamilton said that there are three simple cyber-attack techniques which are increasingly being used to target businesses across the world. These are:

Embedding malware into documents: If a user clicks on a document with embedded malware it can enable a hacker to assume control of their device.
Using spoof email addresses: Hackers use fake email addresses from seemingly trusted sources to acquire private company information.
Man-in-the-middle attacks: These attacks allow criminals to harvest credentials for private and corporate accounts, via public Wi-Fi.

Simple prevention techniques

Even the most destructive breaches don’t necessarily involve highly sophisticated techniques. Hamilton commented that “simply by having weak or easy to guess passwords makes individuals and the organisations they work for vulnerable to attacks that are easy and simple to execute.”

He went on to say: “There are ways to stop cyber-crime, these can be as simple as ensuring passwords are secure, looking out for phishing emails or, as Kroll is doing, working with industry and law enforcement partners to catch cyber-criminals and seize their assets.” Small businesses must utilise these easy-to-implement techniques to safeguard their reputations, and ultimately their bottom lines, from the risk of cyber-crime.


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