South West businesses are being warned to prepare themselves against the possibility of Russian cyber attacks.
The South West Business Council (SWBC) said companies, particularly those involved in sanctions against Russia, are vulnerable to online assault following Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
SWBC is working with the police-led Cyber Resilience Centre for the South West (SWCRC) to create a “fortress mentality” among the region’s companies.
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They are looking to set up a consortium to tackle the threat and create a “best practice toolkit” after speaking to cyber security experts.
The SWBC said companies should already be on the lookout for malware that could cause computers to crash and data to be deleted. It is also urging firms to protect passwords and passcodes and warned that Russia could start using smartphone apps which can “bypass passwords in seconds”.
Tim Jones, chairman of SWBC, said the threat could intensify as the Russian economy becomes increasingly impoverished as a result of western sanctions.
“We are discussing the possibility of a cyber war being launched against all businesses,” said Mr Jones. “Particularly anyone who is part of sanctions against Russia.”
He said as Russia becomes more isolated the threat could intensify and warned it could follow the example of North Korea, which is a hotbed for cyber crime and another isolated nation.
He added: “Russia is going to have to battle for its revenue. The more impoverished it becomes the more it will be looking at cyber crime.”
Just prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin launching his attack on Ukraine spooks at the GCHQ intelligence agency urged firms to “build resilience and stay ahead of potential threats”.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre was already investigating malicious cyber incidents in Ukraine and in the USA the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency gave a “shields up” warning and said every organisation, large and small, should be prepared “to respond to disruptive cyber activity”.
The SWBC stressed it is playing a central role in helping the South West Cyber Resilience Centre – the largest in terms of members of all the regional Cyber Resilience Centres – keep businesses safe.
Mr Jones said: “The combined police authorities are putting a campaign together to show a united front, and every business has to do their own thing too. We can create a fortress mentality around this issue.”
SWCRC is a not-for-profit firm set up in 2020 under National Police Chiefs Council with funding from the Home Office. Its aim is, in partnership with industry, to tackle cyber crime and give sound guidance to companies for whom membership is free.
Business Live’s South West Business Reporter is William Telford. William has more than a decade’s experience reporting on the business scene in Plymouth and the South West. He is based in Plymouth but covers the entire region.
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SWCRC is part of the national roll-out of Cyber Resilience Centres in the UK, which began in 2019, to provide businesses and charities with free support, and an “affordable” way to access more bespoke cyber security services and consultancy. The SWCRC was launched in October 2020 led by police, in partnership with the private sector and academics, and facilitated by Business Resilience International Management (BRIM), which works with the Home Office on preventing cyber crime.
The SWCRC is led by police, in partnership with the private sector and academics, and facilitated by Business Resilience International Management (BRIM), which works with the Home Office on preventing cyber crime. The SWCRC has been funded by the National Police Chiefs’ Council Cyber Crime Programme which secured Government funding to establish a network of CRCs across England and Wales. It offers a range of membership options depending on the level of support that businesses in Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Somerset need. The core membership, which is specifically aimed at micro businesses and SMEs, is free, and provides access to a range of resources and tools to help them identify risks and vulnerabilities.