Businesses are being urged to switch on to the increasing dangers of cyber crime in order to survive.
Around £8.8 million has been lost by residents across Warwickshire, according to the Warwickshire Cyber Crime Survey 2017. There have also been 15,000 successful email scams reported in the region.
To help businesses guard against the threat of cyber crime, the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub invited experts to a workshop at the Everyman Cinema in Stratford-upon-Avon to discuss with businesses how big the problem is and how it can be tackled.
The event was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, as part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme.
Other organisations that collaborated on the event with the CWLEP Growth Hub included Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Coventry University, the Federation of Small Businesses, Warwickshire County Council’s Business Watch Team, Coventry City Council along with West Midlands Police and Warwickshire Police.
Louie Augarde, Senior Security Consultant at OmniCybersecurity, demonstrated the hacking of a simulated website to the audience and outlined what approaches cyber criminals are currently using.
This includes baiting, where criminals leave confidentially-labelled USB sticks in public places in the hope that somebody will plug it in to their own computer, thus enabling the hacker access to their computer.
Other approaches included the cloning of website pages to obtain log-in details from people, and pretexting – where a hacker creates a believable yet fabricated scenario in order to successfully obtain a person’s identity.
Philip Seccombe, Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire, opened the event with a rallying cry for the public to report anything they feel is suspicious.
He said: “The impact of cyber crime is devastating, which is why it is a core part of our on-going agenda where we are working with key intelligence agencies to combat this criminal activity.
“The more that suspicious activity is reported to us, the better chance we have of catching the perpetrators.
“We can all help ourselves when it comes to protecting ourselves from cyber crime, and events such as this hosted by the CWLEP Growth Hub are key to helping people to spot the signs of a cyber attack.”
Neil Batchelor, ICT Business Adviser at Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, gave advice on how everyone can minimise their chances of being compromised.
This ranged from visiting websites such as haveIbeenpwned.com and spycloud.com to check if people’s accounts have been compromised, through to using password managers such as LastPass or 1password to securely store unique passwords.
“Once a hacker obtains a username and password they are likely to try logging in with the same details on other websites, so if the worst does occur having a different password for every log-in will help to limit any damage caused,” Neil added.
Presentations were also made by Risk Evolves on the importance of businesses having a plan in place for the new General Data Protection Regulations that come into effect on Friday, May 25.
Alexeis Garcia-Perez, Reader in Cyber Security Management at the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University, also explored ways to keep data secure.
Richard Warren, Account Manager and Business Mentor at the CWLEP Growth Hub, added: “Cyber crime is a potential hidden killer for SME businesses and action is needed to support them to guard against this type of lethal activity, which is why we decided to hold this event.
“This is an on-going problem that is forever evolving, so we are also looking into initiating a network that helps businesses to come together to share their ways of tackling this cyber problem.”