David Lanc: Tackle cybercrime epidemic before it’s too late

David LancDavid Lanc
David Lanc
Cybercrime is now an epidemic. It’s official. We know this not because more than one in four of us have had our identities stolen, or daily stories like TalkTalk, Vodafone and JD Wetherspoon impact us more. We know because our government is now acting. If cybercrime was the flu, Kleenex would have no hankies left.

Both the UK and Scottish governments recently announced increased budgets to tackle cybercrime. As welcome as that is, if you listen carefully, you might just hear the sound of the stable door slamming shut after the noble beast has bolted.

Today’s organised and even not-so organised cyber-savvy criminals are making sport of online security. The dripping roast, of course, is the opportunity to steal corporate data and hold fat cats to ransom. The societal consequence is that they deny us citizens of our democratic right to privacy and confidentiality of our personal and financial information.

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A corporate fat cat may take some heat or even lose their job. But the impact on us citizens is massive, as our data is no longer as secure as we’re told. The old padlock on the web browser trick is wearing a tad thin.

Cybercrime represents the single biggest threat to business and consumers alike. The problem is that criminals do not play by the rules. Corporate online security has for too long stuck to its old, predictable security systems that are becoming the sport of the bored cybercrook. There are even websites that criminals can go to find programs that show you how to hack into company or personal data.

For today’s generation, being online is as natural as breathing. That means more legitimate and criminal activity. The online world is perhaps relatively new and all-conquering, but the old adage that there are lies, damn lies and statistics remains.

At first glance, the statistics compiled by the Financial Fraud Association show between 2004 and 2014, overall card fraud fell marginally. However, in the same period internet, telephone and mail rrder fraud rose by a staggering 231 per cent. That’s the stuff we’re all doing more of… This makes a reactive task of tackling cybercrime a problem.

Business needs to face up to that or face dire consequences. Because the costs of all this fraud will work its way back to consumers and business alike. Businesses need to be more proactive in protecting their own data and their customer’s personal information. The new government funding is welcome, but it will take time before it has any impact. Time is not a luxury we can afford as criminals will not wait till the new procedures and protections are in place.

All this should be a wake-up call to business and government alike. It’s time to stop acting like sheep and be serious about dealing with cybercrime. It’s time to take the right risk before the wrong one deals us a blow greater than an epidemic.

• David Lanc, chief executive, Payfont