Cybercrimes in the UK
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How to avoid cyber crimes in the UK?

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cyber crime is a targeted attack on the valuable digital assets of a person or an organisation using computers and networks as instruments to fulfil illegal objectives. Cyber crimes can vary in intensity depending on the severity and nature of the particular attack.

Today with a rapidly growing number of internet users, types of cyber crimes are also diversifying. For instance, today, we have crimes like doxing, which translates to the publication of the private information of a person on the internet with felonious intent. This could lead to cyber extortion, which means the demand of a ransom to stall a threatened attack. Hackers today are getting smarter, devising innovative ways to steal your information and send your organisation into insolvency. Every other day the news of an enterprise falling victim to a cyber attack seems to hit the headlines.

As per Statista, 59.5% of the entire world's population today has access to the internet, and there are 4.32 billion unique mobile internet users worldwide. Also, according to Domo, currently, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are produced every day, and 90% of the data available at the moment was generated just in the past two years.

With the volume of online data expanding at an unprecedented rate, the protection of this data is also becoming a more pressing issue. With so many ways like Distributed DoS attacks, Malware Attacks, Phishing, Exploit Kits, Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs), and Botnets for you to fall prey to a cyber attack, how do you protect yourself and your sensitive digital data? Fortunately, with cyber crimes at an all-time high, costing organisations billions of pounds annually, cyber security is also a booming field today.

Cyber security is a body of practices, processes, techniques, and technologies that aim to defend and protect networks, computer systems, servers, and mobile devices from systematic attacks from criminals. Cyber security is not a single entity but rather a collection of different protection techniques such as Application Security, Information Security, Network Security, Disaster Recovery, Operational Security, End-user Education, Endpoint Security, Threat Detection and Response, and Data Leakage Prevention among myriads others that provide a multi-layered, thorough, and impeccable defence to your IT assets.

Phishing and its influence in the cybersecurity domain

Phishing is a popular type of cyber crime where targets are contacted via emails or text messages from cyber threat actors (these can be a group, organisation, or an individual) purporting to be a legitimate entity. The messages are usually customised to get the target/s to reveal information like banking or credit card details, passwords, and personally identifiable information. The stolen data is then used to gain access to accounts with information that can lead to significant financial loss or identity theft, among other things.

If you're a regular user of the internet, odds are you've most likely come across a lucrative (and equally ludicrous) offer like you've won an iPhone or a Car and just need to complete a few steps to claim your reward in the form of a pop-up ad on a website or an email. If you click on the attached link or file, you're giving an open invitation to malware to come to infect your system. Some tricksters also like to add an element of urgency and say the said offer is only available for a limited period so that their given link is clicked on as soon as possible.

In many surveys worldwide, phishing has emerged as one of the most prevalent cyber crimes. According to the FBI, it was the most common cyber crime in 2020. The FBI also reported that phishing crimes nearly doubled in volume from 114,702 incidents in 2019 to 241,324 in 2020. The bureau also stated that there was 11 times the number of phishing complaints in 2020 when compared to 2016.

Cloud Computing and Cyber Security: What's the connection?

Cloud Computing is making waves today as an essential business tool. In recent years, it has had a profound impact on the way business is conducted. As per reports by Flexera, today, 92% of enterprises have replaced their traditional, extensive IT setups with at least some kind of cloud technology and have experienced prodigious growth in business value and astonishing improvements in operational efficiencies.

Because you get limited physical control over where your data is actually stored, people tend to think the cloud must not be as secure as on-premise data centres, which is natural because it's human nature to fear what we don't understand.

But in many surveys, business owners have attested that they've witnessed an improvement in their digital security post migrating to the cloud. Why is it, you might wonder? First of all, reputed cloud service providers such as Office 365, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Workspace (or G-suite) have invested heavily in security innovation and provide many built-in security features such as role-based authentication.

A small-scale business might not have the financial bandwidth to employ a dedicated cyber security team to protect their IT assets, but the cloud providers do. These cloud providers have the resources and the abilities to employ the best minds in the market to ensure total and complete protection of your data. When critical data is stored off-site, the risk of unauthorised access to it is also significantly reduced. Cloud computing gives faster scalability, easier availability, and better control over data which also translates to better data security.

Increasing Cyber Crimes in the United Kingdom

According to Beaming's five years in cyber security report from the year 2019, before the Coronavirus pandemic set in, almost 1.5 million organisations fell victim to a cyber crime, approximately 25% of all UK businesses. The stats also showed a 12% increase in cyber attacks from 2015. During the coronavirus pandemic, when technology helped people connect with others better and find valuable resources on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, cyber crimes skyrocketed and witnessed a never-seen-before surge. According to a study by a cyber security company Nexor, the UK saw a bewildering 31% increase in cyber crime during the COVID-19 period. The research also states that UK businesses lost over £6.2 million to cyber scams during the peak of the pandemic (May-June 2020).

As per Enterprise Times, 99% of UK businesses revealed to have experienced at least one security breach over the last 12 months. Also, 98% of the CIOs, CTOs, and CISOs confirmed the increase in the volume of cyber attacks. More than 9 out of 10 agreed the increase in attacks was somehow related to the new work from home guidelines. The pandemic witnessed an exponential rise in the frequency of cyber crimes and the sophistication of the cyber attacks also increased. For instance, 93 per cent of UK respondents experienced being targeted by COVID-19 related malware or "fearware" attacks in the form of email scams that aimed to exploit people's concerns and fear surrounding the Coronavirus.

Not only are cyber crimes prevalent in the UK, but they are also grossly underreported. According to a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), released in February of 2021, only a tiny fraction of all the cyber crime attacks occurring in the United Kingdom are being reported to the authorities. The report suggested that only 16.6% of frauds are being reported.

As the years go by, cyber crimes seem to be getting more common and more complex. Cyber attacks don't just affect businesses but also governments, national security, essential services, and individuals.

IT solutions companies and Cyber Security

Cyber criminals are always on the lookout to detect technical vulnerabilities in a business' digital infrastructure. Not every company can be expected to have the financial capacity to afford a specialised cyber security team, invest heavily in the security of their IT assets, or even know the complex tools and technologies used in cyber protection for such enterprises. Fortunately, there's a whole market of IT solution providing companies that a business can hire to take care of their cyber security needs.

These IT companies usually offer services ranging from penetration testing, risk management, malware analysis, network security monitoring, implementation, and maintenance, among others. They are an excellent way for small-scale businesses to strengthen their security posture cost-effectively and without dealing with the technicalities and complexities of the job. Since such companies are often equipped with professionals that have years of extensive in-depth domain expertise and experience, they can be entrusted to better evaluate a business's cyber security needs and requirements. The IT consultancy companies can recommend enterprises the resources and tools they require to predict, detect, and block security threats.

Education plays an integral role in the protection of computers and IT systems. Today many companies have begun investing in a concept known as cyber security awareness training, which many IT solutions firms offer. This is where employees of the organisation are taught the basics of cyber security, including how to protect their and the company's sensitive information from hackers who are constantly looking for potential targets. By regularly conducting training programs, a business can ensure their employees are trained to know better than to fall prey to the tricks that the cyber criminals employ.

Conclusion

According to many security firms, phishing or email scams account for the majority of cyber attacks. With the emergence of concepts such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Work From Home (WFH), the number of endpoints for criminals to access company data infrastructures is progressively increasing. Most security breaches are the result of human error and lacking awareness. Cyber security is a collaborative effort that can only work when every component of a company system is aware of the importance of data security and does its part dutifully. From management and executives to end users/employees, for complete protection everyone has to be responsible.

Data can be used in multiple ways to cause a business loss. It can be used to extort money or tarnish a brand's reputation. Data loss of a company also causes customers to lose confidence in that company. The new 'off the shelf' tools are making it easier for less technically savvy criminals commit large-scale cyber attacks. New technological advancements in malware result in increased harm and invention of new crimes, such as crypto mining which involves attacking digital currencies like Bitcoin.

As per reports by Cybercrime Magazine, cyber crimes are expected to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 if proper measures against cyber crimes are not put in place. Thankfully, businesses worldwide have begun to grasp the necessity of protecting their IT assets, and as per the international research and advisory firm Gartner worldwide cyber security spending will hit $170 billion by 2022, an 8% increase in just a year. Since most cyber attacks originate from endpoint devices, there are steps that individuals can do to prevent large-scale cyber attacks. They can use antivirus programs in their systems, avoid suspicious texts and emails, use encryption and firewalls, create strong passwords, and secure their WiFi.

Cyber security is essential because data is valuable. It is the force today powering and regulating business operations, and it should be the top priority of every business to protect it. At Gemraj Technologies Ltd, we understand what data means to you and offer complete data security services that ensure thorough, multi-layered, and comprehensive protection of your precious IT assets. Our impressive panoply of cyber security services is all-inclusive and diverse in nature, carefully and innovatively designed with assistance from experienced cyber security industry experts, keeping in consideration the growing needs of the market and the increasing competency of cyber threat actors. We offer services like Compliance & Audit, Risk Management, Identity & Access Management, and Security Operations Centre (SOC) to ensure your security posture is rock solid, unwavering, and impenetrable.

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