A few years ago, we were expecting an invoice to be paid and the money never turned up in our account. This was surprising because the payee was reputable and could always be relied upon to pay on time. What had happened is a reminder that we must all be constantly vigilant when it comes to scammers.
In this case, the thieves had simply emailed the client telling them we had moved our bank account and given them a new set of details. The client dutifully paid us on time, but it went to the criminal’s account. Despite having evidence, our client was unable to get this money back.
Never think you are immune
It’s sad really that we all have to be constantly vigilant. Cyber criminals are everywhere, and the problem is growing. 37% of UK companies have reported a data breach in the last twelve months and every day small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face around 65,000 attempted hacks, with 4,500 being successful. This equates to 1.6 SMBs being hacked every year, roughly one every 19 seconds.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on cybersecurity, but I do know the impact these attacks can have on a business can be catastrophic. It is estimated cyberattacks globally cost businesses around USD 6 trillion in 2021. In addition to the amount stolen, there are also the additional costs of disruption and reputational damage. In some cases, the criminals demand a ransom but, again, in addition to this amount there are the costs of disturbance and damage to reputations.
Part of the problem is we are all extremely busy and may on occasion take our eye off the ball – for example, accidentally opening an email we would normally ignore and releasing a virus. At the other end, the set-up costs for the criminal are negligible and they can send millions of phishing emails for a fraction of a penny. The economics make sense for them because they only need a couple of distracted recipients to fall for the scam and they have healthy return on investment.
Taking cyber security seriously
It’s too late to be wise after the event. We learned this ourselves after someone with access to our social media accounts was hacked, which in turn meant our Facebook account was taken. Blueberry PR, who deal with our marketing, spent ages working with the unhelpful Facebook help teams trying to regain access to our Facebook page. In the end, they were forced to set up a new page and then, on 4th October 2021, during the 2021 Facebook Outage, when Facebook was essentially to reboot their system, we suddenly got access to our page again.
As a company, we now make sure everyone with access to our social media channels uses two factor authentication.
Take care of your business means taking care of your customers
It must be remembered that ultimately we are protecting our business and that includes our customers. If criminals access our systems, they may be able to access our customers’ details.
Just as if you have a pest problem you should call in a professional, the same goes for cyber security. In our case, we work with Ingenio Tech in Brighton. The company specialises in helping companies like ours to ensure their systems are robust and secure. We recently received our Cyber Essentials Certificate of Assurance from them, demonstrating our adherence to all important cyber security protocols.
As with all aspects of our business, we know that doing the right thing for our customers will also benefit our business.