Online threat is growing

Smaller businesses appear to be leaving themselves open to the growing threat of cyber crime, says business adviser RSM.
Smaller businesses appear to be leaving themselves open to the growing threat of cyber crime, says business adviser RSM.

SMALL retailers need to take the threat of online crime more seriously, an expert firm has warned, following the publication of figures showing a notable increase in incidents.
Business adviser RSM has highlighted the ‘growing threat’ to small businesses following the publication of figures from the government’s Commercial Victimisation Survey. The CVS, which examines the extent of crime against business premises in England and Wales, revealed that there were 228,000 incidents of online crime against businesses in the retail and wholesale sector last year.
Despite the fact there is a degree of overlap between different methods of online crime, it found that 42% of cases related to computer viruses, followed by phishing attacks (34%) and hacking (14%).
The report stated: “Around 11% of all wholesale and retail premises experienced at least one type of online crime in the last year, representing a statistically significant increase compared with 7% in the 2012 CVS. Although changes between consecutive years are not statistically significant, the four-year trend appears to have been steadily increasing.
“Unlike the pattern seen in more ‘traditional’ or physical crimes such as burglary, the number of online crime incidents per 1,000 premises was higher for premises with fewer employees. This may reflect the fact that smaller businesses tend to spend less per year on IT security.”
The survey also looked at the types of IT security measures in place at wholesale and retail premises. It showed that while most businesses of all sizes have anti-virus or anti-spam software and/or a firewall, other measures such as having a data security policy, restrictions on email or internet use by staff, encryption software or restrictions on portable data storage devices become more common as the size of the business increases.
Steve Snaith, head of technology risk assurance at RSM said: “This survey shows there is a growing threat to both retailers and wholesalers from cyber crime. While some larger businesses are implementing the necessary steps to protect themselves, smaller businesses appear to be leaving themselves vulnerable.
“Retailers are particularly vulnerable to some forms of cyber crime due to the high prevalence of online trading.
“As the numbers of devices used by staff in retail and wholesale premises continue to rise, so do the number of weak spots in an organisation’s network.
“Smaller businesses really need to take this threat more seriously and ensure they have the right controls in place,” Snaith said.