As with any form of crime, the battle for cyber security is a continuous struggle. Even though cyber professionals continue to develop new strategies to defend us against cyber criminals, hackers develop new strategies to circumvent our defences at almost the same rate.
The UK is one of the largest economies in the world, well known for its financial services prowess, making it a prime target for the world’s most ambitious hackers. However, it’s not just bankers and governments that cyber criminals shoot for – practically anyone with an email address could be a victim. Fraud is the most common crime in the UK and 54 per cent of fraud cases in 2018 were cyber-related. Whether it’s phishing emails manipulating you into giving away your personal details or data breaches leading to your bank account being compromised, anonymous criminals work hard to break down our defences daily.
In May last year, the EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which in the UK replaced the Computer Misuse Act 1998. The GDPR filled the news for the weeks leading up to its introduction and has encouraged citizens to be more invested in who they give their data and how easily available it is. With GDPR, business owners now have a responsibility to protect the data of their clients or face massive fines. Given that 37 per cent of small and medium enterprise (SMEs) don’t have a cybersecurity plan and 40 per cent wouldn’t know who to contact if a crime was committed, it’s vital that consumers act with caution when sharing personal details online in order to keep their own identities safe.
The enormous fines businesses can now be subjected to under GDPR could ravage a small business so making sure there’s a cyber security plan in place and that proactive action is taken to defend consumer data is in everyone’s best interest.
There have not yet been any major sentences under GDPR despite major news scandals surrounding cyber security in 2018. The Cambridge Analytica scandal broke before the introduction of GDPR, which meant it was exempt from the much heavier fines the Information Commissioner’s Office is now able to impose. Facebook’s transgression in selling user information to the data analytics company cost them a maximum fine of £500,000 (€581,857). This could have potentially reached two per cent of their annual turnover – £618,532,880 (€719,795,538.99) – or four per cent – £1,237,065,760 (€1,439,461,735.73) – under new GDPR restrictions.
Despite our increased awareness of our online vulnerability, the British public are still interested in integrating technology deeper into their lives, with 59 per cent of Brits saying they want a ‘smart’ device. Just five passwords can give hackers access to 10 per cent of all Internet of Things (IoT) devices due to users not bothering to change the default password. IoT devices include everything from smart energy meters to fitness bands like the Fitbit.
These devices store personal data about us which may not seem vital at first but can still build up a profile of you as a person that is still dangerous in the wrong hands. As IoT technology expands over the next few years, personal and business users of any kind of smart technology will need to take more extensive measures to keep everything locked up. Additionally, 41.9 per cent of UK businesses have adopted cloud computing in some form: almost double the EU average, beating out France and Germany, whose adoption rates were 19 per cent and 22 per cent respectively last year. This shows how the UK economy is invested in technological interconnectivity, but this could make small businesses even more vulnerable to attack.
60 per cent of all data on the cloud is not access secured, meaning that entrusting consumer personal data to an unsecured system could be like leaving the safe unlocked for cyber criminals. Any business adopting cloud technology will need to ensure that they are taking steps to keep it secure.
As businesses strive to keep their data safe, those looking to work in the cybersecurity industry should enjoy increased opportunities but businesses will need to ensure that positions are desirable to offset the increasing skills shortage which is being felt worldwide.
Check out the statistics on cybercrime in the UK below and find out how safe your data really is.