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cyber crime

Why firms should face up to the spectre of cyber crime

After a pandemic-induced hiatus, this weekend will see medical masks cast aside in favour of visceral vizards as theatrical cosmetics and costumes return to UK neighbourhoods with a vengeance.

While the freedom to fright will delight sweet-toothed tots and teens, it will send a shiver down the spines of anyone who revelled in the serenity of last year’s coronavirus-curtailed Halloween festivities.

Social distancing measures and regional tier systems thwarted 2020’s trick or treaters and negated the need for the easily spooked to shelter behind the sofa, turn off the lights and pretend not to be home.

However, those of a nervous disposition feeling a pang of nostalgia for the regulations that ruled out any unwanted visitors should be mindful that Covid-19 also left their doors, and those of their employers, ajar to a far more malevolent menace.

Lockdowns, and specifically the work-from-home edicts that accompanied them, served as proverbial pumpkins – an open invitation to opportunist cyber intruders to come calling and, unlike young people dressed as Harry Potter or hatchet-wielding henchmen, hackers are not known to be as courteous as to knock. Nor are they likely to leave with just a pocketful of candy.

From the theft of financial assets and personal and corporate data to entire firms being operationally frozen, the consequences of becoming a victim of cyber crime can be fiscally and reputationally catastrophic.

Attacks which see hackers infiltrating computer networks and locking owners out until they pay a ransom may sound like the stuff of Hollywood heist movies, but they present “the most immediate danger” to UK businesses in cyberspace, according to Lindy Cameron, head of the National Cyber Security Centre.

It is a risk that has been exacerbated by the prevalence of dispersed workforces. For many firms, the pandemic’s first wave delivered an unexpected and immediate test of contingency plans and IT security.

Forced to adopt remote working practices and digital collaboration tools overnight, vulnerabilities were inevitable and while nobody will have deliberately set out a welcome mat for online felons, human behaviour sits at the heart of most chinks that can be found in a company’s cyber armour.

Put simply, people tend to feel safer and more relaxed in their home surroundings and, rather than follow the same IT security processes and procedures they adhere to in a physical office, unwittingly lower their guard.

Common sense is pivotal to cyber protection but being vigilant of carefully crafted phishing emails and ensuring systems are only accessible using multi-factor authentication can go out of the window when toddler tantrums or the hubbub of home life come into the equation at 4.45 on a Friday afternoon.

Hackers, in contrast, are not in the habit of mentally clocking off and are continuously evolving their methods of attack, which makes the task of becoming bulletproof to unseen bogeymen a formidable one.

Fortunately, the information security department at Zeus Tech Solutions is equally restless when it comes to developing defences against digital assailants.

Led by Antony Di Scala – one of only 150,000 certified information systems security professionals in the world – the specialist team is adept at deploying a well-polished shield for clients.

Its services range from conducting audits of the resilience of companies’ networks, systems and software to advising on policy and delivering information security training to employees.

With a focus on preventing cyber-attacks rather than sweeping up the digital debris left by fleeing hackers, Zeus can conduct penetration testing of an organisation’s technical and operational capabilities to identify any potential weaknesses and patch them before they are exploited by rogue actors.

This ethical hacking delivers businesses peace of mind and preserves prosperity by avoiding the fines, loss of face and indemnity insurance costs associated with breaches and failing to meet Information Security Standards.

The digital domain can undoubtedly be a daunting environment but those businesses opting to simply draw the curtains to the threat of cyber-attacks in the hope they will simply pass on by to a neighbour do so at their peril.

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