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Getting ready to prevent cyber-crime in a post-pandemic world

Cyber-crime has increased by 31% in the UK during the Coronavirus pandemic, costing organisations more than £6.2m. Almost 3,500 businesses fell prey to cyber scams during the past year, from email fraud to server attacks and website hacks.

This huge growth in cyber-crime is shocking, but not surprising. Lockdown, business closures and travel restrictions might have reduced physical crime but the massive increase in working, shopping and socialising online presents criminals with an unmissable opportunity.

Many of us are more susceptible to cybercrime simply because these are unprecedented times. In a world where the truth can seem stranger than fiction, it’s not surprising that people are taken in by wild email claims and suspect website links.

But, while the number and variety of cyber-crimes being committed is increasing, the speed of convictions is slowing due to closures and delays caused by lockdown and staff shortages. In some cases, it could take four years for criminal cases to come to court, according to official figures. The number of outstanding court cases has increased by 40% in just one year, to more than 50,000.

These changes will affect us for years to come, meaning that cyber-crime will be far higher up the corporate agenda for security, HR and training managers. At Capita, we believe that there are some important changes that need to be made so you can be ready for this growing threat.

Good employee screening and support is critical

Since criminals might not be tried for several years, it’s important to consider whether your employment screening and background checks of new employees are fit for purpose. Consider using adverse media checks alongside other criminal record checks: this may pick up mentions of arrests long before cases come to court.

Once the pandemic is over, there will be many people struggling with financial insecurity and the effects of long-term stress and isolation. They may be more tempted to become involved in cyber-crime, or susceptible to being defrauded. HR teams can support vulnerable workers with appropriate support and guidance to help them to address any work or financial concerns.

"HR teams can support vulnerable workers with appropriate support and guidance to help them to address any work or financial concerns."

Information security is everyone’s job

New cyber-crime threats are emerging daily, and it’s important to have strong policies that capture new threats and assess the potential risk to your organisation. It’s equally important to:

  • Consider running monthly information security training for people in all departments, to ensure that they’re aware of new risks, and how to mitigate them

  • Share information appropriately depending on the information individuals need to complete their job safely. Sharing detailed information on attack methods too widely could actually increase the risk of more attacks.

  • Provide appropriate support to people who are working at home, to ensure that they know how to protect confidential information out of the office. Distribute policies widely and update them regularly

  • Ensure that your policies restrict employees’ remote access to information from devices that don’t meet minimum security standards.

Over the next year, most organisations will see a significant increase in cyber-crime attacks. With the right training, systems and policies in place, many of these attacks can be rebuffed.

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