Victim welcomes campaign to reduce online fraudSep 06, 2013
Frances Pardell paid her technician £200 to fix her computer after she was sent a scam e-mail that froze her computer.
The e-mail, claiming to be from the police, took over her screen, showed a picture of her at her computer with her IP address and internet details, listed a string of offences and demanded £100 to release her screen.
Frances pictured runs her Luton-based eponymous public relations company.
She said: “It listed a whole host of possible reasons why, anything that is considered illegal – none of which I had committed, of course. I did not respond, it was obviously a scam and fraudulent.
“The hackers had used various police logos, all of which looked fake. I knew that the police just do not ask for money: only criminals ask for money in a case like this.”
New research from the Federation of Small Businesses shows that cyber crime costs its members around £785 million a year as they fall victim to fraud and online crime.
The report shows that 41% of FSB members have been a victim of cyber crime in the last 12 months, putting the average cost at around £4,000 per business.
The FSB is concerned that the cost to the wider economy could be even greater as small firms refuse to trade online believing the security framework does not give them adequate protection.
Previous FSB research shows that only a third of businesses with their own website use it for sales.
FSB Luton and South Bedfordshire branch chairman Damian Cummins said: “Cyber crime poses a real and growing threat for small firms and it is not something that should be ignored.”
In its report Cyber security and fraud: the impact on small businesses, the FSB has partnered with the Home Office and the Business Department to look at issues affecting small firms.
The report also finds that almost 20% of members have taken no steps to protect themselves from a cyber crime. However, 36% of respondents say they regularly install security patches to protect themselves from fraud and almost six in ten members regularly update their virus scanning software to minimise their exposure to online crime.
Mr Cummins said: “Many businesses will be taking steps to protect themselves but the cost of crime can act as a barrier to growth. For example, many businesses will not embrace new technology as they fear the repercussions and do not believe they will get adequate protection from crime.
"While we want to see clear action from the government and the wider public sector, there are clear actions that businesses can take to help themselves.
“We want to see the government look at how it can simplify and streamline its guidance targeted specifically at small firms and make sure there is the capacity for businesses to report when they have been a victim of fraud or online crime.”
Frances said: “Small businesses rely on their IT systems for almost every function of the business. The fact that an unknown and unidentifiable person could blatantly and remotely carry out their threatened actions to sabotage my businesses was very scary.”
The FSB has issued a ten-point plan to help small firms to stay safe online:
Implement a combination of security protection solutions
- Carry out regular security updates on all software and devices
- Implement a resilient password policy
- Secure your wireless network
- Implement clear and concise procedures for email, internet and mobile devices
- Train staff in good security practices and consider employee background checks
- Implement and test backup plans, information disposal and disaster recovery procedures
- Carry out regular security risk assessments to identify important information and systems
- Carry out regular security testing on the business website
- Check provider credentials and contracts when using cloud services