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Staying safe against threat of cybercrime

By Gareth McAlister

In the wake of one of the most significant referendums in modern history, many SMEs are talking about Brexit and what effect it will have on cybersecurity in the coming months and years.

We at Nimbus CS are inundated with questions and concerns from business managers/owners about cybercrime, its effect on business and what they can do to reduce the risk.

Ask anyone involved in fighting cybercrime on a daily basis about what businesses should know, and the first thing they will say is that no business is immune. With an estimated cost to the global economy of around £343bn a year (and cyber-criminals aim half their attacks at small businesses), we wanted to take a look at some of the most pertinent questions surrounding cybersecurity, and the effect a Brexit could have on day to day business.

1. Will Brexit require the creation of new trade deals for companies dealing in IT services?

No. Cloud computing is viewed as a service, not goods, and with technical infrastructure, platforms and software increasingly provided as services on a global basis, any current sales relationships will most likely remain unaffected. That is not to say that future relationships won't be subject to barriers.

What used to be hardware installed at the premises of a company is becoming a cloud service, provided cross-border. This demonstrates the evolution of services and how they can substitute goods in many contemporary cases.

2. Will all EU legislation (relating to cybersecurity) be deemed irrelevant in the UK post-Brexit?

Even though the UK has voted to leave the EU, strands of legislation like the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) agreed in Brussels in December 2015 will still apply to UK companies dealing with the EU, regardless of the recent decision. It seems logical that the UK will eventually develop and implement its own data privacy law, which I would imagine will mirror current EU standards.

3. Will leaving the digital single market strategy adversely impact upon our cybersecurity and marketability in the EU?

This is certainly an area of concern for businesses as we simply don't know how Brexit could affect both the policing of cybersecurity and marketing of future services for the UK in an EU context.

EU President Juncker fronted the Digital Single Market as a means of ensuring that EU citizens wouldn't be affected by location whilst availing of services. However, with the UK set to become exempt from this single market, we could see barriers imposed upon us as we move across the EU in future. This could well be detrimental for both business and holiday makers in terms of access to online services.

4. Will attracting international cybersecurity expertise become more difficult post Brexit?

Firstly, it is worth noting that Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole has a wealth of IT talent as it stands, and this is set to increase in the coming years. Our ability to attract talent from other EU nation states will depend entirely on the type of deal we negotiate. It would seem folly to close ourselves off from talented workers who could improve our workforce in Northern Ireland. Gaining clarity on this aspect sooner rather than later would be beneficial to business.

Finally, the Annual Fraud Indicator 2016 estimates the cost of Cybercrime to the UK at £193bn a year, and with 2.5 million cybercrimes last year I believe every organisation needs to proactively consider how to protect their data over the next months and years while Brexit unfolds.

By Gareth McAlister, MD of IT support and consultancy firm Nimbus CS

Belfast Telegraph

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