Pandemic leads to surge in cyber crime – so is your business protected?

Northern Ireland has experienced a spike in cyber crime during the Covid-19 pandemic
Northern Ireland has experienced a spike in cyber crime during the Covid-19 pandemic

THE coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly brought communities closer together with good neighbours looking out for the most vulnerable in our society.

There have been countless acts of kindness, from charities, churches and voluntary groups delivering food to those in need to businesses altering their opening hours to accommodate our front-line workers.

However, there are still criminals in our society who will always seek to take advantage during times of great uncertainty.

With so many people spending long hours indoors either through working from home or being furloughed, criminals are using the internet to launch scams and steal money from individuals and businesses.

Speaking at a recent online seminar for the Institute of Directors, PSNI assistant chief constable Alan Todd said Northern Ireland has experienced a spike in cyber crime during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “It is very clear that from a strategic level through the National Crime Agency, through the global level, there is a real surge in attempts, at all levels, from individual members of the public right through to business ransomware.

“All of the usual methods of attack have been ramped up at this time and therefore the risk arising out of this for businesses and indeed householders is higher than it was.”

Business owners are advised to ensure their computer systems are fully up-to-date to protect against imitation fraud, phishing, ransomware and extortion.

They should also take measures to ensure staff members working from home are equally protected.

Being a victim of cyber crime can often have far reaching consequences. There will be the initial financial impact on your business but if the crime is of a data breach nature, then this can have negative repercussions for your brand as it will directly affect your customers.

The majority of recent cyber crime attacks have been at a ‘low level’ as criminals seek to take advantage of staff taking on certain duties at home which they might not have been previously responsible for, such as financial transactions.

Therefore, in addition to ensuring systems are fully updated, we would advise that business owners and managers refresh staff guidance around cyber security, and to be on the look-out for unusual requests.

Should the worst happen, and you become a victim of cyber crime, a standalone cyber insurance policy will counteract the threats posed by hackers to your data as well as protection for your brand.

Expert and reliable insurance brokers can provide advice on cyber insurance so you can immediately respond to such an attack as well as get assistance with ongoing costs such as overtime to rectify systems and liability claims which businesses may be subjected to.

Policies like this also cover your computers, data and cyber risks. Importantly, they also provide peace of mind, in the event of your business being a target of cyber criminals.

In times of uncertainty, it is important to have one less thing to worry about.

:: Angela Stewart is commercial manager at Autoline (