Computer Crime Research Center


Firms must go on cyber crime alert

Date: May 05, 2008

BUSINESSES in the region could be leaving themselves unprepared for a cyber-crime attack after a major survey found that less than 10% of North East firms have staff qualified to deal with an IT security breach.

Less than one in 10 of North East businesses have staff qualified to deal with security compared to two-fifths of businesses in Greater London, according to the 2008 Information Security Breaches Survey.

And only a third of businesses in the region carry out background checks on potential recruits compared to two thirds of companies in Greater London, said the report, which was commissioned by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. It also said only a quarter of property, travel, leisure and entertainment firms in the region have controls in place to safeguard against viruses carried on removable media devices.

And one large North East retailer lost over £250,000 after failing to have a contingency plan to deal with the sending and receiving of inappropriate emails, said the study.

At another North East company, it found a virus bypassed security systems, opening up the email system as a spam relay. The business suffered serious consequences with its email domain becoming blacklisted, causing its legitimate emails to be treated as spam by recipients.

Maitland Hyslop, chief operating officer at North East IT giant Onyx, urged businesses in the region to invest more on IT security. He said: “The North East figures are disappointing and nobody is giving it enough attention. Companies need to spend more money on recruitment and training in this area as it could give businesses a competitive advantage. In 2000, the level of virtual crime passed the level of actual crime and the number of hackers is likely to continue to rise.”

Mr Hyslop also said Britain’s involvement in the US-led War on Terror meant British businesses could be under increased threat from terrorists who use cyber crime to disrupt the running of the country.

Tim Sexton, marketing director of Newcastle-based internet security specialist Igaware, warned that small to medium companies (SMEs) rely too much on external suppliers of internet security solutions. He said: “SMEs don’t have the knowledge and understanding to put security in place until there is a problem and a lot of problems are inevitable. A lot of companies aren’t aware that they are already being compromised by a threat.

“Very few businesses realise they need certain security products and some suppliers will sell the cheapest product just to make the sale.”

The information security survey, which was published by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, questioned 1,007 people.

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