A significant rise in cybercrime is posing a threat to businesses in the city region, according to cyber innovation experts. Tony McDonough reports.
The North West Cyber Resilience Centre (NWCRC) is urging businesses to urgently step up protection in the wake of rising cybercrime figures.
Cybercrime can take any number of forms, including online scamming, phishing and identity theft, and if unaddressed can annihilate businesses, both small and large.
NWCRC, who are a police-backed, not-for-profit organisation, are warning businesses to be particularly cautious of email compromise, often found to be a weak point.
DI Dan Giannasi, head of cyber and innovation at the NWCRC, said: “Usually the most common point of attack for an SME is by a phishing email, where an employee believes it to be a genuine email about an invoice or a service, for example, and clicks on a link.
“From that point, a cyber attacker can quickly take over a whole system and literally hold a business to ransom. One cyber-attack can cause significant financial damage and could even wipe out a business completely.”
A recent report by Hiscox found that in three years, the proportion of small businesses with fewer than 10 employees becoming victims of a cyber-attack has increased from 23% to 36%.
And the number of overall businesses who have suffered at least one cyber-attack in a year has increased year-on-year for the past four years, affecting more than half of businesses (53%) operating globally.
The report also confirmed that a favourite entry point for hackers was business email compromise.
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But DI Giannasi insists that preparation, preventative work and education can make all the difference.
He added: “While cybercrime continues to be a big concern for SMEs, there are many practical and easy steps they can take to really step up cyber security and cyber health.
“A Microsoft report stated that by ensuring basic cyber resilience hygiene, like keeping devices and software up to date and enforcing multi-factor authentication, a business can prevent 98% of attacks.
“Our key messages are to carry out basic cyber health checks and ensure that your employees also understand what is good practice regarding cyber security. The weak point for cyber criminals will be a single employee, so it’s good to train as many employees on good cyber practices as possible.
“From a policing point of view, we are working hard with businesses to educate and provide training for SMEs to prevent such attacks.”