In the next 10 years, cyber-security will be the biggest threat that companies in Northern Ireland will face, according to Equiniti, a technology firm which warned organisations should make investment in cyber-security a top priority to defend against hackers and decrease fraud.
The firm announced a new affiliation with the Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) in Belfast. “CSIT is the UK's centre of excellence for research into cyber-security and one of the top cyber-security clusters in Europe, so it makes perfect sense for Equiniti to support the Centre and to benefit from its groundbreaking work,” said Owen Lamont of Equiniti.
The cost of cyber-crime to Northern Ireland was estimated to be £100 million per year according to new research by consultancy firm Grant Thornton. Over 2,500 business leaders in 36 economies were surveyed, with 35 in Northern Ireland. Financial services were discovered to be the business targeted the most.
“The challenge is that it is an international crime. You don't have to sit in Northern Ireland to attack Northern Ireland companies. You can be anywhere in the world,” says cyber-security expert Mike Harris. “The challenge for organisations is to manage the risk beforehand. The one key thing is the awareness among staff. The other parts are having the right policies and the right technologies in place.”
Detective chief inspector Douglas Grant of the PSNI special investigations and cyber-crime centre commented, “We need a collective approach to dealing with this type of criminality and protecting businesses from becoming victims. I would encourage businesses, whatever their size, to take pre-emptive action by signing up to Cyber Essentials, a government-backed scheme which provides clarity on good, basic cyber-security practice.”