Cybercrime fraudsters target ‘easy touch’ SMEs

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SMEs have been warned to be on their guard after national audit, tax, advisory and risk firm Crowe is warning of a huge surge in cybercrime since COVID-19 hit the UK.

Jeremy Cooper, Thames Valley Managing Partner, said: “The latest UK crime statistics from the ONS show an increase of 65% in cybercrime since April 2020, with cybercrime and fraud now representing more than 50% of all crime.

“Our concern is that many SMEs across Thames Valley have taken their eye off the ball while faced with the issues raised by COVID-19 and now Brexit rearing its head again.”

He pointed out that most large organisations have sophisticated procedures and defences in place to guard against cybercrime but this simply is not true of SMEs who may be considered an “easy touch”.

The World Economic Forum has warned that new working patterns, leading to cyber attacks and data fraud, are the most likely technology fallout risk for the world as a result of from COVID-19.

Cooper added: “Most organisations we work with across the region have taken action of some kind but they tell us their biggest challenge is knowing where to target their limited resources, and spend, to make a realistic improvement in resilience to the rapidly evolving cyber threat.”

Crowe has developed significant expertise in this area in recent years, including external and internal vulnerability assessments and searches on the Dark Web for compromised emails and passwords, often available for as little as $2.

Crowe Jim Gee Jim Gee, Crowe Partner and Head of Forensic and Counter Fraud Services, said “Government statistics for 2019 show that 46% of all organisations suffered a cybercrime breach, but since April 2020 this has surged significantly – through our own calculations we believe there has been a 344% surge in cybercrime in the past three months alone.

“The initial stages of a fraud investigation are very important. Organisations that fail to observe the correct protocols are likely to encounter significant problems.

“Doing the wrong thing, however well-intentioned, may prevent discovery of what happened, limit the recovery of losses, limit the full range of sanctions which might be available, and leave an organisation open to legal claims under data protection, human rights and employment law.  “If you suspect a fraud is underway, before you do anything, speak to a professionally qualified counter fraud specialist.

For more inforamtion please contact Jim Gee, jim.gee@crowe.co.uk and Jeremy Cooper, jeremy.cooper@crowe.co.uk

www.crowe.com/uk/croweuk/about-us/our-offices/thames-valley-office-information

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