COLUMN: Digital world opens door to crime

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The technological advances of the last century have opened the door to global communications, but it has also unleashed a new crime threat that is putting individuals and UK firms at financial risk.

While the internet has made our personal and business lives so much easier, it has also increased our vulnerability and there is now as much criminal threat posed online than on our streets.

The seriousness of the cybercrime threat was evident with news of the government’s £1.9billion investment into improving Britain’s cyber defences. In launching the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the Chancellor Philip Hammond said cyber-attacks were increasing in their frequency, severity and sophistication.

The new centre will work with the industry to strengthen security but there is a strong need for businesses and individuals to take more responsibility for protecting their data assets.

Criminal activity online costs businesses more than £1billion in lost productivity and disruption every year yet 80% of these offences are preventable.

With little additional central funding available, it is the job of police forces to utilise the experience and expertise of the industry itself to tackle what is often an invisible enemy.

Today’s frontline includes a wealth of unseen IT experts working around the clock to dismantle organised and sophisticated criminal gangs hiding behind the walls of a computer screen.

We will continue to sharpen our response but we need the support of local people and businesses whether they have one employee or 200 to get on board and give the issue the serious attention it deserves.

You don’t have to be a multinational corporation to be on target list, anyone with a smart phone, tablet or PC is potentially at risk and we all need to be aware of the simple security steps that can protect us.

Robust internet security doesn’t require an IT department or even a big budget. The key is good preventative education of staff and a willingness to build the barriers.

Thanks to the funding I have provided to Derbyshire Alert businesses can sign up to receive alerts about crime, including cybercrime. Visit: www.derbyshirealert.co.uk and create an account to receive alerts from Action Fraud – as well as other crimes. Stay safe.