by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

New research from Barclays has revealed that approximately one in six businesses in Northern Ireland has been victim of a cybercrime attack, according to a survey carried out at a cyber awareness seminar in Belfast yesterday. ‘Hacking Your Head: the increasing use of Social Engineering by cyber criminals’ took place at the Barclays Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths, with the event gathering some of Northern Ireland’s top business talent under one roof to hear from expert speakers including Sean Hanna (Information Security Consultant and founder, Nemstar), Detective Inspector Ally Burns (PSNI) and Jeremy Nutt (Principal Consultant, Ansec), who all explored the complex topic of social engineering.


At the seminar it was revealed that a staggering 15% of local businesses surveyed have been preyed upon by a cybercriminal, experiencing a range of phishing scams, ransomware, or fraudulent emails. The survey also highlighted that 15% of businesses did not have a plan of action in place should their company experience a cybercrime attack.

Joanna McArdle, Relationship Director, Barclays Corporate Banking Northern Ireland, said: “Barclays has seen a significant rise in sophisticated fraud across the entire business spectrum, from start-ups and SMEs through to large corporates. This includes using “social engineering,” which are emails or phone calls impersonating people such as suppliers, staff members or even the CEO, tricking victims into giving out information or making payments.

“Methods for identifying, targeting and attacking businesses are more complex than ever. Cybercrime is difficult to trace. Subsequently, tracking down perpetrators can be near impossible. In the event of a cybercrime attack on a Barclays client, we work closely with them to clearly understand the problem and assist where possible.

“What is most important is to understand that no one is immune from a cyberattack. It can happen to any business, of any shape or size, in any country. The best and most effective way to prevent an attack happening to you is to educate yourself and your company about cybercrime, what it is and how it can affect your business.”

Last month, Barclays launched a campaign to help small businesses tackle cybercrime and fraud. ‘DigiSafe’ highlighted that almost half of SMEs had been targeted by fraudsters, with the average cost implications totalling more than £35,000.

Top Tips for Preventing a Cyberattack

 

  1. Strong defence: The best way to keep attackers out is a strong password. It’s much harder for fraudsters if you use lower and upper case letters, along with numbers and symbols
  2. Invest in tech: Protect your computers with anti-virus software, as well as a good firewall, and keep software updated regularly. Delete unsolicited emails with links and attachments as these could allow fraudsters to infect your device
  3. Check with your bank: If something feels wrong speak up and check it. Don’t assume a call, text, email or invoice is genuine, fraudsters can sound convincing. Always check requests using known contact details and never move funds to a ‘safe account;’ even if the request appears to have come from your bank or CEO
  4. Set clear rules: Have a clear procedure for making payments in your firm. Always check email requests to make payments or to change payment instructions by calling a trusted number, not by return email. Unexpected calls, particularly from fraudsters claiming to be from telecoms providers and retailers are on the rise – so make sure you stay alert
  5. Educate your staff: Every team is only as strong as your weakest link. Boost tactical knowledge and share guidance with your team.
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Joanna McArdle of Barclays with guests speakers at the event

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