Businesses in ‘war zone’ fighting cybercriminals

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 4 Dec 2017

HULL’S businesses are in a “war zone” against cybercriminals, according to the man charged with catching online scammers. 

Detective Sergeant Steve Dennison, of Humberside Police’s Cybercrime Investigation Team, has urged business owners to report incidents amid fears cybercrime is going under-reported in the region as a new survey reveals that one in four of the region’s businesses has suffered a cyberattack.

But more than half of cyberattacks against businesses, 59 per cent, were never reported to the authorities. 

Speaking at the first in a new series of KCOM Business Boost events, DS Dennison said without vital information from victims, law enforcement agencies would struggle to bring the offenders to justice.

He said: “A quarter of businesses in this region have suffered from cyberattacks – and those are the ones we are aware of.

“That’s a staggering statistic. It’s another fact that 59 per cent of businesses don’t report attacks to the police.

“That means law enforcement and intelligence services don’t have a full picture of the attacks that are happening, the nature of those attacks and where they come from. 

“To report it gives us the picture that allows us to co-ordinate activity across the globe with our partners, such as the National Crime Agency, Europol and Interpol.”

Also speaking at the event was Dr Dionysios Demetis, pictured left, lecturer in management systems at the University of Hull Business School, who unveiled the results of a KCOM- backed cybersecurity survey of Hull and East Riding’s business community.

Of the hundreds of businesses questioned, 58 per cent said they relied heavily on IT while 72.3 per cent believed they would suffer major repercussions after a cyberattack. 

Dr Demetis said he was not surprised by the scale of cyberattacks on local businesses, but believed known crimes were only the tip of the iceberg.

He said: “Because the nature of cybercrime has shifted and cyberattacks are indiscriminate, the risks are there for every business that relies on computers.

“The results that we have from the cybersecurity research in Hull and East Yorkshire raise further concerns. For example, only 40 per cent of businesses train their members of staff periodically on cyber- security.

“This harbours dangers for businesses because many attacks, such as phishing, will bypass security filters, so staff members are a key line of defence.

“Our results for the region indicate a lack of top-management engagement with cybersecurity and only 44 per cent of companies seem to have a clear cybersecurity strategy in place.” 

“This is also another major problem.”

Dr Dionysis said he believed the region was in danger to falling victim to a “mountain of indifference” as company bosses adopted an “it’ll never happen to me” approach to cybercrime.

He said: “While the percentage of businesses that have suffered a cyberattack is lower than the national statistic (46 per cent), the concern is that we have a very large ‘grey area’. We could have a large percentage of cyberattacks that have been undetected, the financial consequences of which will take time to unfold.”

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