Belfast Telegraph

1 in 6 Northern Ireland businesses victim of cyber crime: Survey

Paul Davies, cash management specialist, Barclays Northern Ireland, and Joanna McArdle, relationship director, Barclays Northern Ireland
Paul Davies, cash management specialist, Barclays Northern Ireland, and Joanna McArdle, relationship director, Barclays Northern Ireland

By Michelle Weir

One in six businesses in Northern Ireland has fallen victim to a cyber crime attack, according to a survey.

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The figure was revealed as some of Northern Ireland's top companies attended the "Hacking Your Head: the increasing use of social engineering by cyber criminals" event which took place at the Barclays Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths.

Expert speakers included Sean Hanna, information security consultant and founder of Nemstar, the PSNI's Ally Burns and Jeremy Nutt, principal consultant at Ansec, who all explored the complex topic of social engineering.

Ahead of the event, 60 businesses were surveyed about their experience of online crime and it was revealed that 15% had been preyed upon by a cyber criminal, experiencing a range of phishing scams, ransomware, or fraudulent emails.

The survey also highlighted that 15% of businesses did not have a plan of action in place if their company experienced a cyber crime attack.

Joanna McArdle, relationship director, Barclays Corporate Banking Northern Ireland, said: "Barclays has seen a significant rise in sophisticated fraud across the entire business spectrum, from start-ups and SMEs through to large corporates.

"This includes using 'social engineering' - which are emails or phone calls impersonating people such as suppliers, staff members or even the chief executive, tricking victims into giving out information or making payments.

"Methods for identifying, targeting and attacking businesses are more complex than ever.

"Cyber crime is difficult to trace. Subsequently, tracking down perpetrators can be near impossible.

"In the event of a cyber crime attack on a Barclays client, we work closely with them to clearly understand the problem and assist where possible.

"What is most important is to understand that no one is immune from a cyber attack. It can happen to any business, of any shape or size, in any country.

"The best and most effective way to prevent an attack happening to you is to educate yourself and your company about cyber crime, what it is and how it can affect your business."

Last month, Barclays launched a campaign to help small businesses tackle cyber crime and fraud.

'DigiSafe' highlighted that almost half of SMEs had been targeted by fraudsters, with the average cost implications totalling more than £35,000.

Tips for preventing a cyber attack include creating a strong defence with a "strong password", investing in tech by protecting computers with anti-virus software, as well as a good firewall.

Businesses are also advised to check suspicious requests with banks, have a clear procedure for payments and take steps to educate their staff about the risks.

Belfast Telegraph