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Is your business prepared to deal with cybercrime?

We talk with Claire Vandenbroecke of the Northumbria Police Cyber Crime department to talk about the dangers of online attacks.

By Helen Bowman

In a new short series of articles, the High Life North team caught up with Claire Vandenbroecke of the Northumbria Police Cyber Crime department to talk about the dangers of online attacks and to find out how businesses and individuals in the North East can prepare themselves ahead of potential cyberattacks…

Hi Claire, first off, can you tell us how you help businesses in the region?

We, along with our colleagues in Durham Constabulary and Cleveland Police, run several sessions for business and sole traders throughout the North East to educate them on the dangers of cybercrime. We work with local businesses to help them protect their devices, systems and networks from online theft and attacks. The support we provide is free of charge and helps businesses prepare for, and recover from, cyberattacks.

The information we use comes direct from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and provides advice and resources to all sizes of business through the UK.

The NCSC website is a fantastic source of information, advice and actual resources to help everyone from sole traders and SMEs, charity organisations and large multi-national companies.

What are the risks to small businesses of cybercrime?

Cybercrimes, illegal activities that take place online, are on the rise and with more and more people working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s never been more of a need to understand the dangers and start putting protection in place.

Phishing, unintended data links, website hacking and hacking via outdated software are just some of the ways in which criminals target companies and organisations for their own ends.

The NCSC has some helpful resources and infographics to help sole traders, home workers and small businesses to prepare their offices and equipment for an online attack, with several toolkits for organisations of different sizes.

What resources would you recommend for any businesses worried about preparing for a cyberattack?

When we speak to individuals and businesses in the preparation phase of our cybercrime sessions we cover the definition of cybercrime, how it can impact on a business of any size and then we go on to talk about three crucial resources that any business can benefit from.

Cyber essentials is an accreditation scheme backed by the Government and run by the IASME Consortium (Information Assurance for Small and Medium Enterprises). It allows businesses to demonstrate to their clients that they’re working to secure their IT systems against cybercrime. There’s a free resource which enables businesses to check the five technical controls that should be in place, before deciding whether the accreditation would benefit their business.

Next is the Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP). It’s a joint industry and government initiative to exchange cyber-threat information in real time. Businesses who are members of the partnership will receive early warning of cyberattacks, learn from the knowledge and advice of other members and access free network monitoring reports to help keep their systems safe.

And finally, there’s the Action Fraud, which is a 24/7 live cyber reporting platform for business. At Northumbria Police we always encourage anyone who becomes a victim of cybercrime to report it to this platform. Action Fraud has specialist advisors available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to help support victims of cybercrime. We use the information received by this platform to collate intelligence which is then shared with other forces through the UK to fully understand the extent of cybercrime we all face.

Finally, what’s the best way for businesses to take the first step to prepare their businesses against cybercrime

We’d love to help businesses and organisations in the North East to be as prepared as possible for cybercrime, which is why we run free sessions for businesses, charities and community groups.

If there are any businesses who feel they would benefit from an input on this subject, the best thing to do is contact us directly at cyberadvice@northumbria.pnn.police.uk and we can organise a session from there.

We also provide a free vulnerability assessment. During the assessments, we scan a business’s IP addresses and put our findings and recommendations into a report. This enables the businesses to assess their vulnerabilities and take steps to shore them up. Cybercriminals are constantly scanning the internet looking for vulnerabilities so it’s our aim to deal with as many online opportunities for cybercrime as possible to stop the criminals in their tracks. These assessments are available to all North East based businesses and anyone interested can find out more by emailing cybervolunteers@northumbria.pnn.police.uk

Vulnerability Assessment Leaflet

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