The internet has revolutionised the way we work and play. Going online has thrown up a wealth of opportunities for businesses and consumers, but alongside these opportunities there are also considerable threats.
As more and more companies trade online and exchange and house important, business-critical information via the web, their vulnerability to cyber criminals is increasing.
It is no longer new to say cyber crime is one of the most significant threats facing today’s business. Research last year from the Ponemon Institute surveyed a sample of firms from the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Germany and France and worked out the average annual cyber crime bill for a single company.
The analysis put the average annual cost to a US business in the poll at £7.18 million. In Germany, online crime cost an average of £4.7 million per company, the Japanese firms in the survey faced an average bill of £4.18 million and the French firms saw £3.22 million lost because of cyber crime.
The research’s sample of UK firms put the average yearly cost at £3 million and the Australian firms lost £2.27 million. Studies show the cost is going up and up each year.
Types of cyber crime vary, but common ones are denial-of-service attacks, identity theft, hacking, viruses and malicious employees. It can affect a company in any industry. An online retailer, for example, might find its trading platforms interrupted. A financial services firm might find itself hacked for confidential information. A local authority might find it can no longer provide vital services.
SMEs ‘new target’
The dawn of online crime in the 1990s saw criminals eye-up large firms, but this is no longer the case. Businesses of all shapes and sizes now fall under the gaze of the hacker.
Cyber security expert Gary Fairley said cyber criminals are increasingly targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“There has been a shift in cyber criminals’ attention towards SMEs in the last year or so and it’s important that businesses take the threat seriously,” he told the BBC.
“Getting the basics right is the most important step and will protect businesses against the majority of known threats.”
Thankfully, Governments around the world are making tackling cyber crime a priority as they come to recognise just how damaging it can be, especially for firms looking to compete globally. And we should not forget the role cyber crime will inevitably play in the military theatres of the future.
The UK Government, for example, recently launched a campaign called ‘Cyber Streetwise’ to encourage more businesses to protect their systems. At the heart of the campaign is this colourful website offering a list of security precautions.
Here are some top tips for companies of different sizes looking to do more to protect themselves from online crime.
Just starting up
- Install updates and anti-virus software
- Regularly update all software and devices
- Use strong passwords
- Develop a fully-fledged internal anti-cyber-crime policy – including procedures for email, internet and mobile devices
- Carry out regular security risk assessments and security testing to identify important information and systems
- Review bank and credit statements regularly
Firms expanding overseas
- Appoint a cyber crime champion to head up your cyber crime policy
- Going global often means translating content – sometimes confidential – for work in new markets. Ensure you work with a professional translation company offering secure translation services
- Stage test exercises to see how you’d cope in the event of a major attack
Read some more cyber security tips for SMEs
Find out why secure translation tools are a must for confidential documents
Read this interesting piece about a picturesque town in the UK that could well be at the forefront of the cyber crime war