ICE: NCCU warns companies of cyber dangers through employees

ICE: NCCU warns companies of cyber dangers through employees

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 Totally Gaming

Companies have been advised to educate individual employees as to their responsibilities in helping them to avoid cyber attacks.

The warning came from Kevin Williams, the UK National Cyber Crime Unit’s (NCCU) head of partnership engagement in a conference session this afternoon (Wednesday) entitled ‘Managing cyber and economic threats beyond the gaming sector’ at ICE Totally Gaming 2015 at London’s ExCel Centre.

Williams’ concern is that companies may simply look at dangers relating directly to business, such as transactions, but a major problem is that their workforce, who access their networks, are not protecting themselves.

He said: “People are not protecting their PINs and not putting anti-virus software on their systems. If they make mistakes they can leave the company vulnerable to attack.

“One of the major future threats that we see is what are called ‘water hole’ attacks through sites such as Facebook. We see scenarios whereby employees are compromised and their contacts can then be compromised, which could include senior executives who could be targeted for financial gain.”

With so much of the UK economy now reliant on online services, for example the banking sector, the government now considers a major cyber meltdown as a Tier 1 threat, alongside the prospect of terrorist attacks.   

Williams listed a series of figures that show the potential damage of attacks, with 81% of large businesses  and 60 per cent of small businesses reporting cyber breaches in 2013. On average, the cost to large businesses was between £600,000 ($913,000/€799,000) to approximately £1.2m, with small companies at £65,000 to £115,000.

Beyond that are costs that cannot be quantified so easily, with “damage to brand and reputation” being the No.1 concern for businesses. Williams cited the example of US retailer Target which suffered a cyber attack last year in which large amounts of customer data was stolen and the company subsequently suffered a huge dip in profits.

Williams explained that there is help for UK companies that want to avoid attacks, in the shape of advice such as Cyber Essentials, while the NCCU has some 4,500 employees who are available to investigate crimes and portal ActionFraud allows the easy reporting of breaches.

He believes the NCCU is having an impact, citing successes in targeting the Blackshades trojan horse and also its part in an international operation that has depleted the GameOverZeus banking trojan that had previously caused an estimated £100m in losses in the UK.

He said: “We advocate multi-layer security systems and call on businesses to invest in good lines of defence, including a response to witting and unwitting employees that could or have caused harm.

“We also suggest shared intelligence, calling on people, companies, sectors and regulators to work together and fight problems collectively.”

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