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Don’t make it easy for cybercriminals

Most businesses will have suffered some form of cyberattack, even if it is not always immediately obvious that such an attack has taken place.

PwC’s 2020 Irish Economic Crime and Fraud Survey found that more than two third of the businesses surveyed had reported at least one instance of cybercrime. One of the most remarkable findings of the survey was that Irish businesses were twice as likely to have suffered a cybercriminal attack as the global average.

This was despite the fact that Irish businesses were much more likely than their international counterparts to have a dedicated programme to manage cyber risks.

Working from home can leave employers and staff particularly vulnerable to cyberattack from criminals using video conferencing software to access laptops and other devices.

Spotting the tricks of the trade

With large scale home working set to continue for the foreseeable future, it is important to be aware of the tactics used by cybercriminals. It is not possible to prevent every external fraud attempt, so employee awareness is just as important as technology.

A common tactic is for a criminal pretending to be the managing director to send an email to an employee asking them to make a payment or transfer money. It is relatively easy to ‘spoof’ an email address so it looks like a genuine request.

Such requests are usually targeted at assistants rather than senior staff, so these individuals need to be made aware of how cybercriminals work and encouraged to report any concerns they might have.

Think before you act

When put under pressure, people do things they would not otherwise do. One of the favoured tactics for scammers is to make it sound as though their request needs to be acted upon on immediately, not giving the recipient time to consider whether it is suspicious or act on that suspicion.

A data breach response plan will set out what employees should do if they suspect cyber fraud. This is particularly important for businesses that manage customer data as they will have specific obligations under the GDPR.

Other obvious steps include making sure passwords are regularly changed and secure, and managing email. The typical inbox contains loads of data and personal information that can be used by fraudsters to create false profiles.

Clarity in the cloud

The cloud has revolutionised financial management for small businesses. Cloud-based accounting packages such as Big Red Cloud can be accessed anytime, anywhere, making it easier than ever to stay on top of income and expenditure.

But as with any outsourced service, you need to know what will happen in the event of a cyberattack and understand the recovery plan your provider has in place should anything go wrong, which should be set out in your service agreement.

Finally there are the measures that should be undertaken regularly, such as ensuring antivirus software and firewalls are updated regularly and software updates are installed as soon as they are released. Don’t make it easy for the criminals.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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