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Protecting small businesses from cybercrime

Protecting small businesses from cybercrime
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Protecting small businesses from cybercrime
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Almost one in two UK businesses were the victim of cybercrime in the last 12 months, it was revealed at a seminar held at Churchill Square Business Centre last week. Capital Space hosted Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Barclays bank, who educated our business owners on the dangers of cybercrime.

Barclays digital engagement manager, Alex Douglas, warned business owners: “44% of businesses have suffered some security breach or cyber-attack in the last year and we expect this figure to rise dramatically.

“When it comes to cybercrime, prevention is better than cure, because it is highly unlikely that the perpetrators will be caught. You need to keep your digital presence secure.”

With 95% of all losses attributable to human error, Mr Douglas advised: “Have strong passwords, make sure your software is up to date, don’t trust all calls, emails and text messages – make sure you do due diligence and your staff are aware of the risks.”

The seminar, which was organised in conjunction with Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, was welcomed by Kings Hill business owners, among them Tony Foley, Director of ChinWag Communications, who commented: "It was a really informative and insightful event.” 


From left: Alex Douglas, Barclays; Nicholas Heslop, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Peter Boam, Capital Space.
From left: Alex Douglas, Barclays; Nicholas Heslop, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council and Peter Boam, Capital Space.

Social engineering attacks

Social engineering is one of the most prolific and effective means of obtaining sensitive information, because people post content and private information innocently without checking their privacy settings, making them vulnerable to an attack by fraudsters.

Mr Douglas said: “Passwords are often the last line of defence, but we recycle passwords such as family names and dates of birth, which cyber criminals can track down on social media.”

He advised creating strong, separate passwords featuring numbers, symbols, upper- and lowercase letters that can’t be easily guessed. Unique passwords should be created for email accounts and where possible, include a two-factor authentication process to make accounts more secure.

Malicious software (Malware)

Malware refers to computer programs designed to infiltrate and damage computers without the user’s consent and can give fraudsters access to personal information, account details, passwords, key logging, mouse movement and even the ability to watch the victim's screen.

Ransomware – the fastest growing form of computer malware – gives cyber criminals the ability to lock a computer from a remote location before they then attempt to extort money from the owner to get it unlocked.

Businesses can protect themselves from malware by regularly backing up their data and installing anti-virus or anti-spyware software for all their devices – phones, laptops and PCs.

Impersonation fraud

Phishing or spear phishing – email attacks designed to get users to click on a malicious link or attachment – are commonly used by fraudsters impersonating a senior employee or new or existing supplier to make a payment request. Businesses should always check the request directly with the sender, using the telephone details held on file rather than listed in the body of the email.

Mr Douglas warned to avoid opening email attachments or clicking on links from unknown sources. Instead, recipients should roll their mouse pointer over the link to reveal its true destination, which is displayed in the bottom left corner of the screen. Beware if this is different from what is displayed in the text of the link from the email.

Businesses should also be aware of text messaging scams called SMishing - when you receive a text message that appears to be from your bank and often shows up in the same message feed, asking you to confirm or supply account information.

Data theft

Mr Douglas also warned of the risks of logging onto public Wifi networks. “They are not safe,” he said. “Even if you don’t use a password to log into your email or social media account, it is still transmitted over the network, so fraudsters can use the information to attack you at a later date.”

He said it was better to consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when logging onto public Wifi or using 3G or 4G because the data is encrypted and therefore secure.

Welcoming the cybercrime seminar, Roz Chown, HR consultant at Helpful HR, said: “It was incredibly enlightening and has made me want to review my personal and business security to make sure that we don’t become victims of cyber-attacks.”  Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council leader Nicolas Heslop summed up the seminar as "fascinating".

If you ever become a victim of cybercrime, be sure to report it to www.actionfraud.police.uk or telephone: 0300 123 2040.

The cyber security event hosted by Churchill Square Business Centre was a real eye-opener to many of our small-business customers. We hope it has provided our customers with some useful tips so that they don’t fall victim to cybercrime.

To find out how  CapitalSpace  virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667