The North West Cyber Resilience Centre (NWCRC) has sounded the alarm for businesses in Lancashire, highlighting the urgent need for enhanced cybersecurity measures in light of escalating cybercrime statistics.
Emphasising the vulnerability of email systems to compromise, the not-for-profit organisation, supported by the police, has issued a stark warning against potential breaches in digital security.
The repercussions of a cyber attack can be catastrophic, extending beyond immediate financial losses to encompass lasting reputational damage.
DI Dan Giannasi (pictured), leading the charge in cyber and innovation at the NWCRC, underlines the prevalence of phishing emails as the most common point of entry for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Often disguised as legitimate messages concerning invoices or services, these emails can deceive unsuspecting employees into clicking malicious links, granting attackers a gateway to wreak havoc.
“The gravity of the situation cannot be overstated. A single cyber attack has the potential to cripple a business entirely, wreaking havoc on its financial stability,” he said.
Surge in attacks
According to a recent report by Hiscox, the proportion of small businesses with fewer than 10 employees falling victim to cyber attacks has surged from 23% to 36% over a three-year period.
Concurrently, the overall percentage of businesses experiencing at least one cyber attack annually has risen steadily over the past four years, with a staggering 53% of businesses falling victim, up from 48% in the previous year.
Business email compromise remains the favored entry point for cyber criminals, cited by 35% of targeted companies, as revealed by the report. Encouragingly, this figure has shown a decline, underscoring the positive impact of preventive measures and educational initiatives in curbing such threats.
Echoing these sentiments, DI Giannasi affirms the effectiveness of implementing fundamental cybersecurity practices, emphasising that by adhering to basic cyber resilience protocols, such as maintaining updated software and enforcing multi-factor authentication, businesses can potentially thwart up to 98% of cyber attacks, as per a Microsoft report.
“Our primary message is to prioritise regular cyber health assessments and ensure that employees are well-versed in effective cybersecurity practices,” affirms DI Giannasi. Recognising the vulnerability posed by a single unsuspecting employee, he advocates for comprehensive training across all levels within an organisation.
“In collaboration with businesses, we are diligently working to educate and train SMEs, aiming to fortify their defenses against potential cyber threats,” adds DI Giannasi, underscoring the collaborative efforts of law enforcement and enterprises in combating cybercrime.