Cyber-crime costs the North West businesses £107 million a year claims Lancaster University report

Do you run a small or medium-sized business in the North West? Are you not particularly concerned about the growing threat of cybercrime? Well, if the findings of a study commissioned by Lancaster University, an EPSRC-GCHQ Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber-Security Research, prove to be correct, you should be. The report which looked at cyber-security in the North West of England found that online criminal activity is costing key sectors of the regional economy almost £107 million a year, and not only threatens growth, but also puts jobs and businesses at risk. If you thought cyber-security was only for the big boys with big security budgets, then think again. Small and medium-sized businesses who fail to address the problem are equally at risk and could potentially suffer financially.

So which sectors did Lancaster University identify as being particularly vulnerable to hackers? Well, the answer appears to be every sector, but particularly regional businesses and organisations involved in health, transport and the professional and scientific sectors. Companies involved in advanced engineering, manufacturing, finance and insurance, business administration and support services, as well as public administration and defence organisations, were also shown to be vulnerable to large financial or critical information losses. The report also identified that a wider take-up of robust cyber-security measures by North West businesses could reduce financial loses to cyber-criminality by as much as £70 million a year.

Why are small and medium-sized businesses such an attractive target for hackers? Well, principally because of their generally poor awareness of cyber-security. Why are SMEs particularly vulnerable?
Well, simply because their small size means they are less able to withstand financial loss. Why is this proving to be such a problem for the North West? Well, because the local economy is heavily geared towards small business and enterprise, and that makes the region particularly vulnerable.

Is the report an accurate reflection of the situation in this part of the country? Security professionals certainly seem to think so: in fact, many would argue that, if anything, the report is actually conservative in its estimate of the number of SMEs affected by hacking. The report’s findings point to 50 per cent of local firms being hit by at least one security breach a year: however, previous studies by organisations like Price Waterhouse Coopers suggest cyber-security breaches can be as high as 93 per cent of large companies and 87 per cent of SMEs. The problem that any security study inevitably encounters is that many victims of cyber-crime are reluctant to admit cyber-breaches for fear of reputational damage.

Explaining the findings of the report Dr Daniel Prince, associate director of Security Lancaster, Lancaster University’s dedicated security research centre, said:

“This report highlights the growing threat that cyber-crime poses for businesses and organisations across the region. As technology continually evolves and becomes more prevalent in business and our personal lives, there are more opportunities for criminals, who may not even be in the UK, to steal money, private data, or intellectual property.”

“Business leaders need to take these threats seriously and put security measures in place if individual companies, and the North West as a whole, are to prosper.”

If you are concerned about the escalating security challenges and risk management issues facing your business today and would like to take precautions, then why not speak to Krypsys? Krypsys is based here in the North West and fully understands the threats that cyber-crime poses for the region. Our services are focused on helping businesses assess their security posture against current and evolving security threats and educating them on the risks to which they are exposed. We have a wealth of experience in security projects in both the public and private sectors and have worked with organisations to protect high value information assets such as trading platforms, e-commerce systems, data-centres and cloud services. We also work with leading IT security vendors and specialist consultancies to close the gaps in business IT security strategies and to assist in streamlining and prioritising their risk management spending.

Whether you’re looking for help with penetration testing and security reviews, or are looking for advice on security compliance and web security solutions, Krypsys can help you. For more information on web security, please contact Krypsys on 01273 044072 or [email protected].