Fresh warning over cyber crime

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Neil Batchelor, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Richard Warren, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub, Helen Barge, Risk Evolves, Philip Seccombe, Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Louie Augarde, OmniCybersecurity, and Alexeis Garcia-Perez, Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University.

BUSINESSES are being urged to switch on to the increasing dangers of cyber crime in order to survive.

Around £8.8 million has been lost by residents across Warwickshire, according to the Warwickshire Cyber Crime Survey 2017, and there have also been 15,000 successful email scams reported in the region.

Experts in the field gathered at the Everyman Cinema in Stratford-upon-Avon to discuss with businesses how big the problem is and how it can be tackled.

The event was organised by the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, as part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Business Support Programme.

Among the organisations represented were the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Coventry University, the Federation of Small Businesses, Warwickshire County Council’s business watch team, Coventry City Council, along with West Midlands Police and Warwickshire Police.

Louie Augarde, senior security consultant at OmniCybersecurity, demonstrated the hacking of a simulated website to the audience and outlined what approaches cyber criminals are currently using.

This includes baiting, where criminals leave confidentially-labelled USB sticks in public places in the hope that somebody will plug it in to their own computer, thus enabling the hacker access to their computer.

Other approaches included the cloning of website pages to obtain log-in details from people, and pretexting, where a hacker creates a believable yet fabricated scenario in order to successfully obtain a person’s identity.

Advice ranged from visiting websites such as haveIbeenpawned.com and spycloud.com to check if people’s accounts have been compromised, through to using password managers such as LastPass or 1password to securely store unique passwords.

Presentations were also made by Risk Evolves on the importance of businesses having a plan in place for the new General Data Protection Regulations that come into effect on Friday, 25th May.

Philip Seccombe, police and crimecommissioner for Warwickshire, opened the event with a rallying cry for the public to report anything they feel is suspicious.

He said: “The impact of cyber crime is devastating, which is why it is a core part of our on-going agenda where we are working with key intelligence agencies to combat this criminal activity.

“The more that suspicious activity is reported to us, the better chance we have of catching the perpetrators.

“We can all help ourselves when it comes to protecting ourselves from cyber crime, and events such as this hosted by the CWLEP Growth Hub are key to helping people to spot the signs of a cyber attack.”

Richard Warren, account manager and business mentor at the CWLEP Growth Hub, added: “Cyber crime is a potential hidden killer for SME businesses and action is needed to support them to guard against this type of lethal activity, which is why we decided to hold this event.

“This is an on-going problem that is forever evolving, so we are also looking into initiating a network that helps businesses to come together to share their ways of tackling this cyber problem.”