Businesses in the North East have heard about the developing and illicit world of cyber crime at an event hosted by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum and technology specialists TSG.
The organisations teamed up with security experts Sophos to educate the region’s entrepreneurs about the growing threat of attack, and how best to protect their businesses.
Guests were shown a terrifying demonstration that showed how susceptible they were to cyber criminals or online ‘hacktivists’ committing online fraud, theft and extortion, particularly in the new age of smart phones, tablets and wi-fi.
Entrepreneurs’ Forum executive director Nicola Short said, “Cyber crime is intangible and insidious. It can be difficult for businesses to understand so it’s important that we can team up with our corporate partners TSG, who have expertise in this area, to support entrepreneurs and help them to protect themselves.”
James Lyne, director of technology strategy at Sophos warned that a sophisticated world existed in online hacking.
“It’s no longer just super high end cyber attacks – it’s not the geeky art it used to be,” he said. “The adversaries we are facing are changing and it is now easy for people with low skills to damage your business.”
“Organised cyber crime has become an industry, showing staggering maturity. Evil quality tools and services are readily available and mirror what’s available in the legitimate IT sector. Many come with their own tracking devices so they can tell how many computers have been compromised by a virus or hacking, and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) type systems can then contact those people to offer a so called remedy.”
He said there were 200,000 malicious codes issued every day in the UK alone that try and steal information and money.
Criminals are hacking into legitimate websites and leaving behind infected programmes. Other times they are encrypting people’s data and holding them to ransom for it – refusing to let them have essential passwords until they hand credit card details over, or, in one extreme scenario, threatening to plant child pornography on the victim’s computer and then inform the police unless they pay up.
Delegates also heard from Steve Cox, chief technology officer of TSG about the challenge of keeping pace with technology.
He said, “Cyber crime is now more profitable than the drug trade. But the penalties are a lot less, and it’s a lot easier to hide.”
“Everyone is affected by IT Security. Web security, email security and end point security are the main areas, yet people tend to look at these in isolation – and that is what leaves them vulnerable. The proliferation of multiple mobile devices make it even more challenging to track the weaknesses and address the threats.”
Steve also spoke about what businesses need to consider when protecting themselves against cyber crime.
“People buy the technology or the product first, without much consideration as to how it can really impact on their business. The key is to look at their business aims and business processes first, then take a considered approach to the technology they need,” he said.
“People have got lost in the industry jargon when what we really need is to get back to basics. A lot of IT security is just about applying some common sense principles and policies – making sure that people change their passwords regularly and don’t write down key information. It’s the combination of user vigilance and the right technology solution that will create a secure environment.”
“Businesses just want to get on and run their business. So what they need is to work with a technology company who they trust, who understands their business and can match the most effective technology to their requirements. They should be able to rely on their partner do the work in the marketplace and keep pace with the ever-changing threats.”