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Protecting against cyber crime – small steps, big challenge

The internet has transformed modern life in the UK; changing the pace of businesses and their interactions and relationships with their customers. Cyber crime continues to be a sophisticated and growing threat to businesses and individuals across the UK. It undermines confidence in our communications technology and our country’s ability to do business, by disrupting the systems which are essential to our economy.

Increasing our collective cyber resilience has clear and immediate benefits for the Energy and Utilities sector ranging from reducing or eliminating financial loss, to minimising reputational risk and time costs associated with recovering from attack. These risks can be reduced by taking relevant protective steps for your business and clearly communicating to your customers how they can protect themselves. 

There have been 1.8 million recorded cyber crimes in the year ending March 2017 and nearly half (46%) of businesses have identified at least one cyber breach in the last 12 months. Criminals are ever more frequently exploiting the weak cyber security of us all: individuals, global corporations and micro SMEs. To combat this, we all need to play our part in protecting our personal and business data. 

One of the consequences of cyber crime that is hard to ignore is the cost, as well as the time it takes to deal with the fall out. Action Fraud estimates that around £11 billion was lost to the UK economy as a result of fraud and cyber-crime in 2015/16; this works out at approximately £210 per person in the UK.

Cost and time are not the only negative impacts following a cyber breach. A cyber attack can damage reputation and customer trust. Indeed, a number of recent high-profile breaches have demonstrated that this reputational risk doesn’t just come when your specific organisation is targeted, but companies can be publicly blamed for breaches resulting from the poor cyber security (and subsequent data theft) of other organisations.

Cyber security should be a priority for all businesses, and even taking some simple steps can help ensure your organisation is protected. It’s also vital to educate staff with the right information so they can play an active role in preventing a cyber breach.  There are also business and reputational benefits in equipping your customers with clear and simple advice on how to protect themselves. Today’s consumers increasingly expect more from trusted brands and organisations and cyber security advice is no exception - particularly if customers are sharing their personal data. 

Cyber Aware’s simple protective steps – based on technical advice from the National Cyber Security Centre – can help to reduce the risks your business and customers face online 

     •        Install the latest software and app updates 
These contain vital security upgrades which help protect your devices from viruses and hackers. 

     •        Use a strong, separate password for your email account 
Hackers can use your email to take control of many of your personal and business accounts. A good way to create a strong and memorable password is to use three random words or numbers, which are easy for you to remember, but difficult for other people to guess.  

     •        Secure your tablet or smartphone with a screen lock 
This provides an extra layer of security to your device. 

     •        Dont use public WiFi to transfer sensitive information 
Cyber criminals can set up fake WiFi hotspots which might enable them to intercept sensitive information you are transferring online. To avoid this, refrain from making financial transactions or confidential business --- until you are connected to a secure network. 

     •        Always back-up your most important data 
Protect your most important data such as your photos and key documents by saving them to an external hard drive or a cloud-based storage system. 

Join Cyber Aware today by communicating these simple, protective steps to your staff and customers.  We work with organisations in a variety of ways, from co-branded advertising to providing content for internal communications and providing bespoke leaflets, posters and website copy. We can work with you to produce assets that fit with organisation’s own channels and styles and it would be great to hear how your organisation can support the Cyber Aware campaign, so please do get in touch. 

These simple and proactive steps can go a long way to improving online security for individuals and businesses - for more information about Cyber Aware head to cyberaware.gov.uk/

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