Don’t Let Cyber Criminals Cash In On Brexit

There are still so many uncertainties when it comes to Brexit. But one vital way of preparing for life outside the European Union is to enhance your business’s protection against cyber-crime.

According to a survey from cyber security firm Clearswift, over half of the businesses in the UK are increasing their budget to fight off cyber criminals who are expected to try and cash in on the confusion surrounding our exit from the EU.

It’s feared criminals will launch a wave of attacks using malware, phishing and ransomware, among other cyber weapons, all designed to harvest business data and sensitive information.

According to a new report from Aon, quoting statistics from Cybersecurity Ventures, it’s predicted that by 2021 the worldwide business community will have haemorrhaged around US $6 trillion in cyber losses. It also suggests that damage to a business’ reputation could cost just as much or even more in the long term.

Globally, more than eight billion accounts have been compromised – statistically everyone on the planet has had their personal data stolen, lost or compromised.

SMEs are the most vulnerable, according to research from AVORD, which found that only 1 per cent of small companies have the knowledge to fully protect data and assets against cyber-attacks.

In Northern Ireland, businesses aren’t immune to the threat from international online criminals. One in six businesses in Northern Ireland has fallen victim to a cyber-crime attack. Recently one Armagh businessman told how he came very close to paying out thousands of pounds in Bitcoin after his entire computer network was locked down by ransomware.

By way of example, other Northern Ireland claims covered recently under a typical cyber insurance policy have included:

• A data breach occurred when an accountant’s laptop was stolen containing 800 customer tax records. There was a total cost of £35,000 to replace the laptop, notify clients and investigate the loss.

• There was a recent data corruption when an ex-employee hacked a computer system. The data restoration and recreation required cost almost £22,000.

• Finally, when a property management firm’s email system became corrupted, there was a total cost of £31,000 to investigate the cause of the corruption, as well as former customers suing for damages after being infected by the email.

With the average cost to a small business of the worst security breaches between £75,000 and £311,000, having specific insurance cover in place to mitigate these risks can reduce the financial impact.

Get Safe Online, the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety has developed an effective five-step business security plan:

:: Audit – Review your own skills and knowledge. Determine if you need outside help. Identify assets and information that need to be protected, including hardware, software, documentation and data.

:: Plan – Write procedures for preventing, detecting and responding to security threats. Provide a framework for enforcing compliance, including staff policies.

:: Execute – Communicate with staff. Train where necessary. Carry out the plan.

:: Monitor – Research new threats as you become aware of them. Update and modify the plan as changes occur in personal, hardware or software. Carry out ongoing maintenance such as backups or virus updates.

:: Repeat – Plan for a complete review and update six to twelve months after you complete the first plan.

Autoline offer full claims support following an incident, providing cover for a range of first- and third-party exposures for small to medium-sized businesses, as well as larger corporation.

:: Ian McDowell is commercial account executive at Autoline Insurance.