So-called cyber crime – crime that uses a computer, laptop or similar device as part of the offence – is on the increase across the Yorkshire and Humber region.
And criminals are looking to target business because of the greater rewards on offer.
Typical attacks include mandate fraud where businesses receive phishing emails purporting to be from a legitimate company or finance personnel sending a request for payment details.
Money is then unwittingly paid to the fraudster.
Another popular method of attack is ransomware attacks where businesses open an email which then installs ransomware in the system, taking over and stealing sensitive data and information.
Businesses then receive a ransom demand which they tend to pay. It is thought that this type of crime is under reported as businesses want to avoid what could be seen as potentially negative publicity.
But the West Yorkshire Cyber Crime Unit is looking to take the fight directly to the criminals and has advice to help guard against such attacks.
Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Smith is in charge of the Regional Cyber Crime Unit for the Yorkshire and Humber.
She also leads the West Yorkshire Cyber Crime Unit.
“The computer has become the new crow bar with many criminals not even leaving the comfort of their own home as they try and extract what can be very large sums of money from companies.
“The impact of such an attack can be massive and some businesses have even had to close because of cyber crime.
“To me that isn’t acceptable – this isn’t a ‘victimless’ crime and people can lose their livelihoods because of it.
“So we want to make it as hard as possible for criminals to launch an attack.
“We are doing everything we can to prevent such crimes but there are also some steps businesses can carry out to protect themselves.
“Businesses rightly invest in good locks, strong doors and alarm systems to keep burglars out and the same applies to keeping cyber criminals out – with a little bit of investment companies can greatly reduce their chances of being a victim.”
- Use encryption to protect data from cyber attacks
- Backing up computer systems and data
- Ensure that anti-virus software and firewalls are installed and kept up to date
- Ensure employees are educated about the risks of cyber crime
- Having a business continuity plan in place which is up to date and is regularly practices
- Ensure user privileges are restricted
- Using strong passwords with at least 8 characters containing upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters
- Limit the types of removable media that can be used
DCI Smith added: “In addition to this we have a document available on our website which gives further detailed advice about how to avoid an attack but also what to do should the worst happen and a cyber criminal succeed.
“There is also the Cyber-security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP) which is a joint industry and government backed social networking tool.
“It enables its members to exchange information on threats and vulnerabilities as they occur in real time.
“Partners from across industry and government feed into the team and share high quality reports to help better protect members. It is free to join for any organisation that has responsibility for a UK-based IT network.”
For more information about the CiSP visit www.ncsc.gov.uk/cisp