In recent months there have been several high-profile cyberattacks around the world, many of which have made headlines. The most notable was the attack on the Colonial oil pipeline in the USA, reported in the Guardian, during which hackers held the crucial infrastructure to ransom until they were paid millions of dollars.
For several years, the UK has been transitioning towards a more digital economy, and the coronavirus pandemic has hastened this process. As more and more of our daily lives are lived online, it seems likely that these sorts of attacks will increase in frequency.
Cybercriminals are a serious threat to many businesses and that’s why it’s important to stay informed. Read on to find out everything you need to know about data security and staying safe from cybercrime.
With the country in lockdown for much of 2020, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that the pandemic has accelerated the UK’s shift online. With everything from shopping to banking having to be done digitally, the internet now plays a more significant role in our lives than ever before.
According to figures from Ofcom, published by the BBC, online shopping rose by 48% during the pandemic to a total of £113 billion.
A significant portion of this was an increase in online purchases of food and drink. Many people, such as the elderly and the immunocompromised, were unable to visit supermarkets during the pandemic and so had to do their shopping digitally.
Another reason why many Brits’ internet usage has gone up is due to the shift towards working from home. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), more than one-third of people worked from home at some point during 2020.
However, while this shift may have made some aspects of life more convenient, it has also made many people and businesses more vulnerable to cybercrime.
Many cybercriminals exploit security vulnerabilities to steal data and money from businesses. Some of the most common forms of cybercrime are:
This typically involves the unauthorised access into networks, such as by using stolen passwords, to steal money or information from a business. It can involve small-scale attacks by lone individuals to organised corporate espionage.
Phishing involves cybercriminals sending emails which fraudulently ask for security information and personal details. Often, they will pretend to be from a legitimate organisation, such as a bank or employer.
This is a type of malware that typically threatens to permanently prevent the victim from using their files, or publish sensitive data about them, unless they pay the cybercriminals a fee to remove it.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
These attacks involve a large number of unique IP addresses flooding an internet server at once, causing it to crash as it cannot respond quickly enough to each request. This makes sites and web-based services unusable for both staff and customers, until they pay a fee to the criminals.
These attacks can cause a significant amount of disruption to a business and can also be very costly.
According to the National Cyber Security Centre, almost two-fifths of UK businesses experienced a cyberattack in 2020. Furthermore, the average cost of a cybersecurity breach for a business was £8,460, which rose to £13,400 for medium and large businesses.
According to Lindy Cameron, the chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, ransomware now represents the biggest online threat for most people and businesses in the UK.
She was quoted in the Guardian as saying that many victims of cybercrime were “companies who cannot afford to lose their data”.
According to government figures, cybercrime costs UK businesses around £21 billion each year and a significant portion of this is from the theft of intellectual property. Some of the industries that are most at risk are financial services, as well as software and computer services providers.
If you want to stay safe from cybercriminals, here are two key things that you and your staff can do:
However, while you may take every precaution against an attack by cybercriminals, you can never fully discount the risk that it could happen to you. If it does, the disruption that your business would face could cost you a significant amount of money.
The thought of spending hours on a project, only for it to be wiped in a cyberattack can seem like the stuff of nightmares for many people. That’s why, if you want to protect yourself from this possibility, one of the ways that you can help yourself is by taking out cyber insurance.
If you are the victim of a cyberattack, and your systems are damaged or compromised, this protection will help to cover the costs.
Furthermore, many policies also give you access to specialist response teams, cyber forensics teams for recovering stolen data, as well as public relations teams. This can help you to mitigate the impact of the attack and allow your business to resume normal operations.
Despite the recent increases in cybercrime, research by Aviva shows that 86% of small and medium-sized businesses in the UK have no cover in place. If your business is one of them, you could be dangerously exposed to risk.
Working with an insurance broker can help you to find the right form of protection for your needs. This can give you invaluable peace of mind to know that your business’ operations won’t be disrupted even if the worst should happen.