New figures show that more than £2million was reported lost by businesses in the Northumbria Police force area in the past 12 months as a result of online crime.
Action Fraud has revealed that in the year from March 2015, the number of cyber crimes against businesses across the UK increased by 22 per cent from 30,475 to 37,070. The national picture is even more worrying with more than £1billion being lost to fraud by businesses across the UK - and that does not include all those businesses who choose not to report online crime to the police.
Now, Get Safe Online has warned all businesses that they need to do more to ensure staff across the board have appropriate online fraud awareness training, so that everyone understands their role in keeping the business secure. The charity claims that a substantial amount of attempted fraud against businesses is successful due to lack of knowledge or sloppy habits by their employees.
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, said: "These latest figures show the enormous and, quite frankly, daunting impact online crime can have on a business, its reputation, its employee and even its continued operation. It also highlights the abundance of ways a business can be targeted, both externally, and from within.
"To tackle this issue head-on, businesses need to review their own skills and knowledge, determine if they need outside help, and then create measures to prevent, detect and respond to potential security threats. It's all about education, and staff must be aware of this plan and trained where necessary.
"With new data regulations in place, we'll see more and more businesses in Northumbria start to report online crime and realise that the right staff training can go a long way to helping prevent this growing problem. We recommend all small businesses visit the business section of the Get Safe Online website."
Detective Inspector Angela Hufton, of Northumbria Police's Cyber Crime Unit, said: "For today's modern business, the ability to safely email, work remotely and operate a website is crucial to everyday operation, success and the ability to grow. However, hand in hand with this does come an element of risk, and seeing the huge amount lost by businesses in Northumbria to online crime in the last year, highlights how local businesses need to train their staff to spot the signs early on."
Mandate fraud is becoming an increasingly worrying issue for businesses with 30 cases reported in the force area alone in the last year and £444,693 lost to it by businesses in the area. This occurs when a fraudster gets victims to change a direct debit or standing order by pretending to be an organisation a victim makes regular payments to, for example, a business supplier or subscription service.
Corporate employee fraud is another big danger for businesses and involves employees or ex-employees obtain property or compensation through fraud, or misuse corporate cards and expenses. It is also on the rise in the region with 13 cases recorded in the last year and £225,262 lost by business in the Northumbria force area.
Hacking is perhaps one of the main issues facing businesses. A fraudster can hack into a business's server, an employee’s personal computer, or access email and social media accounts to obtain private information. In its various forms, hacking is one of the most widely reported types of fraud in the UK over the past 12 months, with 1,314 reported cases.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting http://www.actionfraud.police.uk
For further advice on how businesses can stay safe online, go to https://www.getsafeonline.org/business