Yorkshire Post Business Section: Rebecca Chapman CEO, NEBRC

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The following piece was printed in the Yorkshire Post Business Section on 28th April. 

Rebecca Chapman is Director of the North East Business Resilience Centre (NEBRC), a not-for-profit, police-led organisation which exists to help protect businesses across the region from the growing issue of online crime. 

A Superintendent with 30 years policing experience across uniform and CID disciplines, Rebecca has a keen interest in the cyber world and the current cyber issues businesses are facing today in this new and emerging domain. 

Digital transformation around the world – to include technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligenceand data analytics – is well regarded to aid growth and development – but with this comes risk. As assets migrate to the digital world, issues such as cyber attacks and data privacy move to the forefront. 

As a result, cyber and online security needs to be a high priority for all businesses, regardless of size, reputation, and resources available. Attacks can happen at any time and can come in a variety of forms, whether totally random or targeted. 

Indeed, as heightened tensions across the world are playing out in real time, cyber threats are a large player in the war currently being waged in Ukraine and, as retaliatory measures, against Russia as the aggressor. 

Some may think that with such global events unfolding cyber security on a domestic or personal level is not a priority for hackers but take heed… there is always a need to strike a balance between current threats and taking defensive measures.

To add some context, Covid-19 pandemic period saw a 400% increase in cyber fraud, with statistics reflecting that small businesses – and particularly the self-employed sole trader or micro business – have found themselves at greatest risk and without access to relevant cyber support and services.

These recent times have seen employees sent home to work, often on their own IT devices, and without any proper guidance on use of the internet, or the security needed to make it safe, opening many to new cyber vulnerabilities. An increase in mandate fraud during lockdown being a prime example here, as spoof invoices are paid unknowingly to criminals. And such crime is only set to rise. 

It is business critical therefore, operating in these times, that organisation ensure the fundamentals of cyber security are in place and robust. Make it your business, today, to ensure that basic cyber hygiene controls are working correctly: it is very hard to make swift system changes when you’re in the eye of a cyber breach stormand the consequences of any form of attack can be devasting. 

Put simply, the way we work is changing from a technological, environmental and social perspective, and this needs to be reflected in our cyber responsibilities. Businesses need to respond and adapt to the new world and the changing behaviour and expectations. 

To bring this message home, a recent report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has revealed that almost one in three businesses (31%) and a quarter (26%) of charities now experience breaches or attacks at least once a week. This is a staggering statistic. 

In part response, the Online Safety Bill is set to improve protection for internet users from the impact of fake ads, through which criminals steal people’s personal data, manage fraudulent financial investments, or break into bank accounts. But more needs to continue to be done in this area. 

At the NEBRC we are aware that cyber security is a complicated and complex environment. An impartial, not-for-profit organisation, the NEBRC was set up as part of a national network to support business across our region from online crime. We work with the best cyber agencies and consultants from across the UK to demystify the jargon, offering access to national intelligence data, free guidance, and affordable practical help to increase online protection. 

We’re here to protect people, places and processes, whatever the budget, to help assess needs, offer solutions and ensure that cyber safety is a priority for all. 

If you want to discuss security measures for your business, contact the NEBRC team today for information on FREE resources and membership at enquiries@nebrcentre.co.uk

www.nebrcentre.co.uk