The Threat of Cyber Crime

When we think of ‘cyber-crime’, we might imagine sophisticated plots by highly skilled computer experts, designed to wreak havoc against the state and big business. We may assume it’s something that happens to other people and that we, as individuals or small businesses, are unlikely to attract the interest of a cyber-criminal.

However, the reality is that cybercrime is not the preserve of the technical expert. Many attacks are unsophisticated and are carried out by people with only basic technical knowledge. Attacks can be indiscriminate or targeted specifically at individuals. Any one of us could be affected.

Cyber-threats are many and varied. They commonly include scams such as ‘phishing’ or ‘spear-phishing’ whereby cyber-criminals attempt to trick people into divulging personal or financial information. Threats include ‘social engineering’ whereby people are manipulated into handing over key information or passwords.

Ransomware, a form of cyber extortion, is an increasing threat, as the WannaCry attack of 2017 illustrates. Malware, including viruses, trojans, spyware and worms, also continue to cause pose problems on computer systems. Businesses can also face the threat of disruption through ‘Denial of Service’ attacks, which block access to an organisation’s website.

Imagine running a business and not being able to access important files and systems that are necessary for you to trade. For reasons ranging from hardware failure to cyber-attacks, your business could risk losing access, temporarily or permanently, to customer’s details, payment details, financial records, order information and correspondence.

The loss or theft of such data could have a devastating effect on your business, financially, legally and reputationally. Remember, under the General Data Protection Regulation, if an organisation holds personal information about its customers or clients, there can be serious financial penalties in the event of a data breach.

It is therefore vital for organisations, of all kinds, to be aware of, and safeguard against, cyber risks. The Development Zone’s course of the month for May is ‘Introducing Cyber Risks’, which provides an accessible introduction to the threats businesses face in the digital age. Moreover, it provides helpful steps to ensure that you have appropriate measures in place to protect your data and systems.

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About the author

Nathan joined RWA in 2016 on successfully completing his PhD. He previously worked in the private, public and charitable sectors. Nathan leads the content and professional standards team at RWA and is responsible for managing and curating technical content on the Aviva Development Zone and the award-winning My Development Zone e-learning platforms.

Since joining RWA, Nathan has written hundreds of business skills e-learning modules and assessments on a variety of subjects, including leadership and management, communication skills, human resources, employability, regeneration, citizenship and equalities.

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