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Cybercrime in the UK: How protected are you?

Technology is ever-evolving – with that, comes greater risk to businesses and society in the form of cybercrimes. If you’re a business in the UK, you’re likely wondering how these work, whether you’re vulnerable to them, and what you can do to stay safe. This Pacific Prime UK article provides you with an overview of cybercrime in the UK by looking at definitions, examples, risks, as well as precautionary measures.

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A look into cybercrime in the UK

Cybercrime is a criminal activity that either targets or uses a computer, a computer network, or a networked device. It is a broad term that includes cyber attacks, which is an attempt to disable computers, compromise sensitive information in the form of a data breach, or to use an unsecured computer system to launch further attacks.

Types of cybercrime

Malware occurs when malicious software, including viruses, ransomware, and spyware, are sent to the victim in the form of a link or file. It can result in significant damage to data and systems, or unauthorized access to a network.

Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks occur when a cyber criminal floods the victim’s computer or network with traffic or information that causes a crash, so that employees or customers are not able to access the system.

Phishing emails occur when a cyber criminal emails malicious attachments or URLs to the victim in order to gain control of their accounts or computer. Often, users are tricked into providing access.

Identity theft occurs when a cyber criminal gains access to the victim’s confidential information by finding out passwords through hacking, retrieving information through social media, sending phishing emails, and more.

Risks of cybercrime

While the scale of cybercrime is often discussed in terms of financial loss, it is personal data that is more lucrative, as found by independent think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). Given the centrality of data and cloud computing, or using remote servers on the internet to store data, the risk of cybercrime is on the rise.

According to reports from news publication Government Europa, 41.9% of UK businesses have adopted cloud computing, which is double the EU average. France and Germany have an adoption rate of 19% and 22%, respectively. When considering that 60% of all data on the cloud is not access secured, the UK has a high risk of cybercrime.

In fact, 46% of UK businesses suffered a cybersecurity breach or attack during the past year, which rises to 68% for medium-sized firms and 75% for large enterprises, based on statistics released by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS).

What’s more, the department found that organisations have become more resilient to breaches and attacks over time, and are less likely to report negative outcomes from breaches, and more likely to make a quick recovery. Nevertheless, the costs of breaches and attacks are substantial, such as:

  • The loss of money or data (19% of businesses affected)
  • The negative impact such as requiring new measures, having staff time diverted, or causing wider business disruption (39% of businesses affected)

Examples of cybercrime

There have been many cases where businesses in the UK have been affected by cybercrime. One example is the cyber attack against Tesco Bank in 2016, resulting in a £2.26m stolen from 9,000 customers, and a subsequent £16.4m fine imposed on the bank by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

More recently, British Airway suffered a cyber attack in 2018, where details from around 380,000 bookings were stolen, such as bank card numbers, expiry dates, and CVV codes. As this occurred after the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into place (more about this below), British Airways faced a record fine of £183m.

Tackling cybercrime

The growing threat of cybercrimes have resulted in the creation of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), part of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which became operational in October 2016. It aims to provide an effective incident response to minimise harm to the UK.

In addition to this, there are also increasing regulations. The GDPR came into place in the UK in May 2018. It’s the core of the EU’s digital privacy legislation, which has put data security on the agenda in the continent. With the GDPR, businesses must protect the data of their clients, or they’ll risk being fined.

Given this threat of cybercrimes, as well as increased regulations, it’s vital that UK businesses take preventative measures in the form of cybersecurity. However, 37% of small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) don’t have a cybersecurity plan and 40% wouldn’t know who to contact if a crime was committed, as Government Europa reports.

Protecting your business from cybercrime

So, what are the best practices to raise an organisations’ cyber safety and what are the cyber security trends to know in 2020? We’ll go over some key information, as well as point you towards useful resources for you to get advice on and report cybercrimes.

  • Update your software regularly as they contain security updates that ensure your devices and business information are safe.
  • Generate a stronger password using a mix of lower and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Be careful with emails and don’t open suspicious emails. They may contain links to viruses or fraudulently request for information.
  • Purchase antivirus software in order to keep your devices malware-free.
  • Make sure your employees understand cybersecurity threats to decrease the likelihood of mistakes occurring.
  • Consider getting cyber insurance, as this type of insurance protects businesses against financial loss and can keep businesses operating while a solution is being considered.

In the event that your business is a victim of a cyber attack, you can have a look at Victim Support for ways to report the crime. If you’d like useful contacts for advice about fraud and cybercrime, the Metropolitan Police also has a list of charities and organisations that can provide information and support.

When it comes to cybersecurity trends to know about, one major trend is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Organisations will have to protect AI-powered digital business systems, leverage AI with packaged security products to enhance defence, as well as anticipate criminal use of AI by attackers.

Secure cyber insurance in the UK

The world of cybercrime is fast-evolving, as our technologies evolve. Stay on top of the latest trends with Pacific Prime UK by following our blog for weekly news and updates. We also create in-depth reports, our most recent one being the 2019-2020 State of Health Insurance Report, where we talked about AI and health insurance.

If you’d like to learn more about company insurance solutions, including what cyber insurance policy covers, the cost of cyber insurance, as well as cyber risk management for companies in the UK, you can also get in touch. Contact our corporate team today who are more than happy to help!

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime UK
Suphanida aims to demystify the world of insurance by creating informative and engaging content. As a wordsmith, she spends the majority of her day writing and editing website content, blog posts, in-depth guides, and more.

Outside of work, Suphanida enjoys travelling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.