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Some time back, perhaps it’s close on a year now, a couple of customers walked in to our reception lobby here at Big Red Cloud HQ. I remember the day well. First off, it was a beautifully warm and balmy day and secondly, one of our customers was carrying a PC in her arms. About 30 minutes previously, her PC was hacked with a phishing scam and a small sum of money was transferred from her credit card to an account somewhere in China. Her immediate reaction was to unplug the PC to prevent further theft but I told her the damage was already done, that there was little I could do to help and that her best course of action was to cancel all credit and debit cards. This she duly did.

Roll forward six months and I noticed an increase in calls from worried customers about locked files on their desktops. They had fallen victim to a ransom-ware scam and there was absolutely nothing we could do to help. This was and is frustrating; to have a customer on the phone and for them to be totally at the mercy of a cyber criminal looking for a ransom to unlock the files on their PC. We’ve witnessed the increase in cyber criminal activity first hand because our support line is the first port of call for some of our customers ensnared in a cyber scam. When the issue arises their first reaction is to reach out to a friendly support desk – queue Big Red Cloud.

We discussed this internally and decided the best thing we could do was to produce a comprehensive report on cyber crime in Ireland and in that report, provide guidelines for small business owners on how to take the necessary steps to protect their businesses.

The report will be published on Tuesday 4th October.

Little did we know that cyber criminals have developed a comprehensive arsenal of tactics and methods to attack and defraud hard working business owners. We’ve come a long way since the so called Nigerian email scams or advance-fee scam, to give it its proper name. Researching cyber crime, we identified over 30 different potential cyber threats and here’s the nub of the issue, there is no one that can guarantee you 100% protection such is the evolving nature of the threats.

What you can do is to take preventative measures to mitigate against the risk of cyber crime and cyber criminals.

1. The first and most important is to educate yourself so that you at least have some background to the threats facing your business. How can you fight an enemy if you know nothing about them?

2. Then you take the preventative steps so that your business is as safe as it can be. Knowledge is power and with the insights into the specific threats, you can put in place the necessary counter measures.

3. This is the most important. Regular and detailed reviews of all your security protocols so that your defence is on guard at all times. Hackers / cyber criminals are working 24hrs around the clock and there is no shortcut to keeping them out. Vigilance and constant updating of security protocols and passwords is the best deterrent.

The Internet has brought many great developments for the common good of our society but where there’s money, you’ll find individuals and groups working to steal money in varying amounts. In one case an organised crime gang stole more than €800 million in a two year period from a number of banks around the world. The multinational gang is based mainly in Russia, Ukraine and Eastern Europe and the crime began with a simple phishing email which carried a quite potent piece of malware called Carbanak.

This allowed the criminals to record and see everything that was happening on the network by tracking keystrokes and using the webcams connected to it to video users. That gave them all the passwords and network access they required to transfer money out. The fraudsters were also clever enough to keep the amounts below $10 million in each theft in order not to trigger any alarms.

We will share this guide titled ‘Cybersecurity Report’ with every one of our close on 40,000 customers in the hope that we will help them counter the threat of cyber crime and cyber criminals in some way. We also invite you to take the first of many steps to protecting your own business by requesting a copy of the report.

Here’s a sneak preview of the cover – click to request a copy of the report. You’ll be glad you did.

Cybercrime Report

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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