Belfast Telegraph

Online crime cost Northern Ireland firms £2m last year

By Deborah McAleese

Northern Ireland businesses lost more than £2m last year through online crime.

More than 240 cases were reported to police within the space of 12 months - an average of 20 a month.

It is suspected that this is just the tip of the iceberg as not all businesses will have reported online crime to the police.

Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Grant, from the PSNI Cyber Crime Centre, said that the statistics - compiled by Get Safe Online and Action Fraud - were a cause for concern and highlight how local businesses need to train their staff to spot warning signs.

Nationally, online losses last year amounted to £1bn with 37,000 cases reported - a 22% increase.

Although it is still one of the most widely reported crimes affecting businesses, reports of cheque, plastic card and online banking fraud decreased by 21% nationally in the last year. A reported £59,439 was lost to this in Northern Ireland in 2015-16.

"Business people in Northern Ireland are vulnerable to leaving themselves exposed to fraud if they fail to take simple steps to protect themselves," warned Mr Grant.

"Any business, regardless of size, should be signed up to the Cyber Essentials scheme to ensure they have basic protection in place.

"Cyber Essentials is a government-funded initiative to provide certification and verification that basic cyber security measures are in place," he said.

Mr Grant added: "We would also encourage companies to join CISP, the Cyber Information Sharing Partnership.

"This is another government-run and funded initiative providing a secure platform for business and industry to share threat information, mitigation tactics and also for law enforcement to issue key threat and alert guidance.

It is recommended that all small businesses visit the business section of the Get Safe Online website for advice:

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