The North West Cyber Resilience Centre (NWCRC) is urging businesses in Cheshire to heighten their security measures swiftly, as cyber crime rates continue to escalate.
Emphasising the vulnerability of email compromise, the police-supported non-profit organisation highlights the critical need for precautionary measures.
The ramifications of a cyber attack extend beyond mere financial loss, potentially tarnishing a business’s reputation and causing lasting damage.
DI Dan Giannasi (pictured) heading the cyber and innovation division at NWCRC, was keen to demonstrate the prevalence of phishing emails as the primary gateway for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to fall victim to cyber attacks.
Increase in attacks on smaller businesses
A recent Hiscox report reveals an alarming increase in cyber attacks on small businesses with fewer than 10 employees, soaring from 23% to 36% over three years.
Additionally, the percentage of businesses experiencing at least one cyber attack annually has steadily risen over the past four years, with 53% falling victim in the latest survey, up from 48% in the preceding year.
Business email compromise remains the hackers’ preferred entry point, cited by 35% of targeted companies, although the figure has slightly decreased, showcasing the efficacy of preventative measures and education.
DI Giannasi said: “While cyber crime continues to be a big concern for SMEs, there are many practical and easy steps they can take to really step up cyber security and cyber health. A Microsoft report stated that by ensuring basic cyber resilience hygiene, like keeping devices and software up to date and enforcing multi-factor authentication, a business can prevent 98% of attacks.
“Our key messages are to carry out basic cyber health checks and ensure that your employees also understand what is good practice regarding cyber security. The weak point for cyber criminals will be a single employee, so it’s good to train as many employees on good cyber practices as possible.
“From a policing point of view, we are working hard with businesses to educate and provide training for SMEs to prevent such attacks.”
NWCRC’s cybersecurity consultants offer practical advice, including the use of robust passwords and multi-factor authentication, the ability to identify phishing emails, and prompt reporting of any phishing attempts to [email protected]. Additionally, ensuring regular updates for all business computer equipment and software is vital.
Working in close collaboration with regional law enforcement, the NWCRC delivers complimentary training to SMEs, financed by the proceeds of crime funds (ARIS funding).
Over the past few years, the organization has extended 300 free memberships and training sessions in Greater Manchester, with a recent launch in Merseyside. Plans are underway to expand these services to other regions in the North West in the upcoming months.
The NWCRC conducts subsidised or affordable training and education programs for small to medium businesses, as well as the education and charity sectors. Their partnership with the NW Regional Organised Crime Unit allows them to effectively combat cybercrime in the region.