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Gloucestershire Business News

Five reasons why your business could be a cyber attack victim - Neville Mills of Brunsdon Insurance

By Neville Mills, managing director of Brunsdon Insurance Brokers Ltd 

As evidenced by today's Punchline story, Gloucester City Council computer hack could take months to fix, cyber attacks can occur at any point in time and have a detrimental affect on an organisation. 

From insider threats, through to social engineering, to phishing, malware, cross site scripting cyber attacks can start anywhere - writes Neville Mills, managing director of Brunsdon Insurance Brokers Ltd.

For the majority of businesses their normal working environment transformed overnight, with Covid-19 restrictions significantly increasing remote working and resulting in more opportunities for cyber crime.

No longer did a company have to just protect its business locations, there are now hundreds, even thousands of locations to protect. Even businesses created to support remote and flexible working struggled to manage the risk and exposure on such a large basis.

The majority of victims of cyber crime are small to medium enterprises. Ransomware attacks, fund transfer fraud, phishing, vishing and social engineering are all made far easier with employees working remotely, combined with insecure home Wi-Fi.

Here are some reasons why your business could be a cyber attack victim:

1. Lack of investment

The media always report the big security breaches at major well known companies, however SME's are the more common victims of cyber crime and attacks. The reason you do not hear about SME's is that no business wants to have their reputation ruined by admitting they have been a victim of cyber crime. 

The Federation of Small Businesses estimates that SME's are facing up to 10,000 attacks daily. Cyber criminals see SME's as easy targets, even though the proceeds are less. A lot of SME's lack awareness and resources, investment in IT security and staff training on cyber security risks.

2. Social engineering

Social engineering is a manipulation technique that exploits human error to gain private information, access or funds. In cyber crime, these "human hacking" scams tend to lure unsuspecting users into exposing data, spreading malware infections or giving access to restricted systems. 

SME's are likely to be more exposed to social engineering because:

  • They often have basic IT security in place
  • They are unaware of the risks involved and often do not provide any training to employees who are the weakest link in IT security
  • They work with a variety of third party partners to operate their business and these are the root cause of 41 per cent of data breaches
  • They almost always make and receive payments using bank transfer

3. Prompt payment of ransom

When faced with paying a ransomware demand to potentially get back online faster or enduring a long period of business crippling downtime, SME's will often feel their only option is to pay the ransomware demand. They are without the support of a dedicated cyber support specialist which a comprehensive cyber and data policy provides.

Whilst committing a ransomware attack is a criminal activity, in general it is not a crime to pay a ransom demand, unless the payer knows or reasonably suspects that there are connections with terrorism or that this would breach sanctions regimes. Often when a ransom has been paid, the data is not returned or it is often found to be corrupted and unusable.

4. Collateral damage

Developer Blackbaud was targeted by a cyber attack in May 2020, in which hackers broke into the developer's systems and stole personal data relating to donors and others who had shared those details with Blackbaud's customers.

While the hack was detected and the hackers eventually locked out, they were able to copy personal data people had shared for various purposes with organisations that used Blackbaud's software.

SME's often find themselves as the collateral damage in large scale cyber attacks that have nothing to do with them. They often think that they are safe simply because they outsource their IT, but it is when a cyber attack is launched against one of their technology providers, it is the businesses that rely on the technology provider that are often left facing business interruption losses, the associated costs with privacy notifications to clients, customers and are left with the reputation damage.

5. External IT usage

A significant number of SME businesses need to be connected electronically to multiple IT systems of partner companies, larger entities or businesses to assist them to operate and run their business. 

When cyber criminals are looking to hack into these larger entities which are generally more IT secure, they will look to target the larger entities downstream suppliers, as these SME's are often less IT secure and an easy route in. A large number of these IT relationships are visible through public available data.

At Brunsdon, we believe businesses should be equipped with an insurance solution designed to minimise the impacts of a cyber attack. Our experienced team can help you identify your risks, and with access to the main product providers, we can deliver a proactive insurance solution to fit your business needs.

For further information and advice about how to protect your business, call 01452 623632 or email enquire@brunsdonib.co.uk.

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