The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we all use technology and how we do business - with an acceleration towards home working.
As a critical enabler and investor in Northern Ireland that has generated £592m total GVA impact locally, BT Group is working hard to help keep Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK up and running during this difficult time. From providing the network resilience to enable the nation to stay connected, to working with governments and public sector organisations to enable emergency responses, we are also committed to ensuring that our business customers have the security solutions and knowledge necessary to stay safe online.
With many SMEs and larger businesses having to adapt their business models to working remotely, this can pose not only connectivity and operational challenges but also security considerations in response to the ever-growing threat from profit-orientated and highly organised cyber-criminal enterprises.
With cyber crime continuing to escalate, a new approach to digital risk is crucial. Businesses need to not only defend against cyber attacks in this 'new normal' working environment, but also disrupt the criminal organisations that launch these attacks.
Companies' need to help their employees to understand the potential risks. Security solutions that apply granular controls on what apps and data users can access based on who they are, where they are and what device they're using, could make all the difference to an organisation's future - as hackers and scammers look to exploit these new ways of working.
BT is at the forefront of driving technology change and securing the UK's digital infrastructure. We invested £632m in innovation last year, and we have around 3,000 cyber experts focused on protecting BT's networks and those of our customers. This is a vital component in securing our business against increasingly sophisticated criminal gangs, who are supported by a highly developed and rapidly evolving black market.
Risks to both large and small businesses across Northern Ireland are evident in a variety of forms. This includes various types of malware or phishing attacks, high-end targeted assaults on finance systems, as well as more regular attacks on business information and on high-net-worth individuals within organisations. Criminal attacks are often used with the intent of fraud, extortion or theft of hard intellectual property.
As a trusted service provider and advisor to private and public sector businesses across Northern Ireland, BT's local specialist team works in conjunction with external experts to develop and provide advice - as well as a whole portfolio of security solutions to look after and manage cyber security risks for our customers.
At BT, we also have a ringside view of the latest attack landscape across cyberspace as a result of our work across global networks - and we're using these capabilities and knowledge to help protect our customers. Our expertise can identify and stop the latest cyber security threats before they reach us, and we offer the same unique expertise to our customers
Cyber security needs to become a focus for all of us and our businesses. It's essential that companies adopt a change in mindset and to regard security not simply as a defence exercise - particularly in this new digital world of home working. It is, in fact, the enabler that facilitates digital innovation and ultimately drives business growth.