Loading…

Blog

  • Category: Business development

The dangerous rise in UK cybercrime

Cybercrime has become every bit as clever as the rise in sophisticated software development.  And while we think we’re creating better and more superior pieces of software, we find that cybercriminals are finding new and inventive ways of taking not only your computer, but also your identity and financial information. Your IT department should be aware of the dangers, and can help to raise awareness throughout your organisation by providing training and helping to create promotional campaigns. 

But what can we do to combat the rise in cybercrime in the UK, or at least prepare ourselves and our computers against an attack?

Let’s take a look at the worst and most potent types of cybercrime out there. Malware can take many forms and is becoming more sophisticated in its ability to infiltrate your organisation.

Ransomware

  • Not opening emails if you’re unsure who they are from, and don’t click on attachments or links until you’re absolutely sure it’s safe. 
  • CAPTCHA codes could be linked to ransomware. Check the authenticity of the site first.
  • Back up all of your files regularly.
  • Keep your software, programmes and applications updated, but also be very careful about where you download updates from. Vigilance where software development is concerned is absolutely essential. 

There are other types of malware to be aware of that directly relate to the dangerous rise in UK cybercrime, and these include: 

  • Viruses – self-replicating viruses that can spread throughout your computer network and reach other files.
  • Trojans – don’t replicate, but opens a door into your computer and steals information from it.
  • Worms – self-replicating, and spreads to other people via messages which are infected with the virus.
  • Spyware – sits in your computer once it enters and spies on you. It can take your financial details and work its way into software which means you could be installing it without even knowing.
  • Adware – Displays adverts, slowing your computer down, and often displaying explicit content for over 18s.

Ultimately, your first line of defence should be a good quality antivirus suite. Your antivirus package should be seen as an important investment, not an expensive insurance policy that will never be used. As a business, you are a target.

It is just as important to actively encourage good practice within your organisation, making sure that your antivirus solutions are up to date and carrying out regular backups, whether that’s you, a dedicated IT team or an external IT company who do it for you. 

Use the skills of your IT professionals by asking them to assist with the creation of policies and procedures that can be audited against. Raising awareness throughout the organisation is crucial in terms of avoiding ransomware. Your developers, software engineers, programmers can all help with creating a comprehensive training programme that can be adapted for both new and existing staff. This training should start from the point of recruitment and continue throughout your employee’s time with you.

Education gives both you and your staff another weapon with which to fight against cybercrime, helping everyone avoid the traps that cybercriminals put there to catch you out, and the resulting harm they can cause. Tactics are always changing, so training should be delivered on a regular basis for all staff throughout your organisation, helping to remind them of best practice guidelines, and update them on the newest tricks cybercriminals are employing to try and take your company down.

  • Category: Business development

The EU referendum and the IT sector...

The EU is by far the UK's biggest trading partner.  44% of everything we sell abroad goes to EU countries.


Remaining within the EU guarantees our access to the single market but leaving creates both risk and opportunity.


So how will leaving or staying in affect the UK IT sector?  It's a question generating a great deal of debate throughout the industry.


Those that back the campaign to remain part of Europe have a sound argument.


The UK relies on a large pool of talent sourced from Europe and backers of the stay campaign argue that, if leaving Europe makes it more difficult for Europeans to work in the UK, IT will suffer as we have a shortage of skilled IT workers in our own country.


One of the most influential arguments of those who want us to stay is that we currently, as part of Europe, have access to a market of 500 million people.


They claim that EU membership makes the UK appear more attractive to international investment and also makes the UK more globally competitive, giving our nation a better deal in trading relations as part of the EU.  It is also argued that more foreign businesses are likely to set up in the UK if we are part of the EU.


There is also a line of thought that the UK remaining part of Europe gives us a seat at the table where the decisions are made, whereas, if we leave, it is likely that we will still be affected by these decisions but will no longer have any say in how decisions are taken.


In order for a separate UK to remain trading with the rest of the EU, it is likely that many compromises would have to be made, for example in immigration.


But not everyone agrees.


There are many in the industry who think that a UK outside of Europe would flourish.  For a start, our native talent would have more opportunities for work, training and development. If even a fraction of the 350m we spend each week on staying part of the EU, was to be invested in training and education, our home-grown talent could easily flourish. Perhaps this would outweigh the argument from those who point to a wider talent pool as the No. 1 reason to stay.


To build on that argument, many say that it is the uncontrolled immigration from the EU that is actually stifling our access to talent. In reality, it is India and the Philippines where you find highly skilled, but cost-effective IT professionals. However, due to the lack of control we have over immigration from the EU, the government has to be very strict with immigration from other countries, meaning accessing these true talent pools is almost impossible.


One of the main reasons that some of the key thinkers in our country want us out of Europe is that they want the UK run by people who have been elected by the UK people, they want our rules made by us.


It is thought by this camp that the UK does not have enough influence in the EU and there is far too much regulation and red tape stifling trade and business. Only last year, the EU changed the VAT rules for those selling digital products and services, which ultimately meant that small businesses who had never had to even register for VAT before, now had to register and start charging and paying hefty fees. It was financial chaos.


Lastly, those that argue for Brexit believe that remaining part of the EU is only beneficial for big business. SME's on the other hand, who are currently smothered by EU regulations, would actually flourish in an independent UK, growing a stronger economy within our own control and regulations. Big companies such as Facebook and Amazon love the EU. But why? Could it be the ability to play the EU rules to massively save on tax? Take for example the €9tn that flows though the Netherlands to tax havens, which helps huge corporations pay less tax than some small family-owned IT firms in the UK.


The problem really is that there is still a lot of uncertainty in actually what will happen if we leave the EU.


Will existing EU laws still apply?  Many European laws are later entrenched into UK law but not always and not right away.   Will, for example, the new data protection laws that come in later this year still apply?  Another example is that the EU have made rulings about how Microsoft have to bundle software for sale in Europe – will this no longer apply?


Under EU law, all council data has to be transported, stored and processed within Europe only.  Will this still apply or will it have to stay in the UK only?  Will UK companies that currently handle European data no longer be eligible to store or process this data?


There are also pricing implications.  Mobile call costs are currently low across Europe – will these caps have to go up in the UK?


There's also the question of EU grants and subsidies within the IT industry.  How will these be affected?  What about copyright and intellectual property law?


The list of unknowns is long and daunting, that's for sure.  The arguments from both sides rage on and have divided the UK IT industry.  There are those who are convinced that leaving would be disastrous and those convinced that staying would be equally so in the long term.


You can be sure to see much more discussion on this subject as the referendum looms nearer.  As for us, like so many people we’re still undecided.  So we’ll continue to read both arguments with interest as we try to make up our mind on this monumentally important and historically crucial decision.
  • Category: Business development

Business needs Technology

Today the idea of running any business without technology is unbelievable.  In fact, if your technology doesn’t work for any reason the entire business can grind to a halt, we are so dependent on the internet and the software we use every day.

Read more: Business needs Technology