Cyber crime is on the rise – especially since the outbreak of Covid-19, with more people working from home and perpetrators coming up with ever-more inventive scams.
It’s a serious issue for both individuals and companies to address, as ignoring it could lead to a breach of your computer systems and potentially a loss of data and/or income.
Cyber security measures can help to prevent this happening or alert you when people try to break into your digital systems – whether they are doing this for financial gain or simply to as a disruptive joke.
What are the key areas of cyber crime?
The most common type of system breach by far is fraudulent emails and websites.
Other forms of cyber breach include:
- Impersonating organisations
- Virus, spyware and malware
- Unauthorised use by staff
What are phishing emails?
One of the key things to beware of is phishing emails. These are communications by email that are fake, but often seem plausible. They may contain attachments or links to websites that will damage your data, or they might try to trick you into revealing information that can be used to defraud you.
Whether you are an individual concerned about cyber security or a company with a computer network, it’s important to keep a look out for emails that are not genuine. In particular, beware of:
- Clicking on a link out of curiosity before you know whether it’s safe
- Emails that have odd spelling or grammar
- Emails that encourage you to click on links urgently
- Emails that appear to be from official sources but look suspicious
- Unknown senders
- Using unsafe USB devices
If you receive an email purporting to be from an official organisation such as the NHS or the tax office, visit the official website to check that it is genuine. Most major organisations will have a page on phishing scams, outlining how they will communicate with you and what scammers might try.
If in doubt, check before you click.
How serious is cyber crime?
In one word: very. Allowing criminals access to your data can cause untold damage to your organisation’s finances and reputation, especially if you store customer information, such as contact details and bank accounts.
A breach in your security can cause customers or clients to lose confidence in your organisation and take their business elsewhere.
You can also lay yourself open to serious fraud, leading to major income loss.
How can you improve your cyber security?
One of the most obvious way to protect your computer or computer networks is to install a firewall. This protects against external threats and malware, such as computer viruses, spyware and ransomware.
Any organisation with a computer network should ensure that their staff are informed or trained on procedures relating to cyber security.
To protect the security of your organisation, you should:
- Make it hard for attackers to reach users by implementing anti-spoofing measures; reducing the information available to attackers, such as email addresses; filtering or blocking phishing emails
- Help your staff spot and report phishing by offering training and encouraging the reporting of suspect emails
- Protect your company from undetected phishing emails by setting up 2FA (2 Factor Authentication) access; ensure your browser is up to date and your system is protected by a proxy server; install firewalls and other protection against malware
- Make sure you have a quick response to any incidents; set out an incident plan and relay it to staff. Encourage all staff to report suspicious emails quickly
Look out for our second blog in this series, coming soon.