Businesses in Worcestershire have been alerted to protect themselves from increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals, amid concerns that attacks are set to double the national crime figures.

Nick Marlow, director at Kidderminster IT experts Minster Micro Computers, has issued the warning saying businesses, especially SMEs, are under ‘extreme risk’ as criminals create ways to simultaneously hack thousands of global IT systems.

The alert comes amid concern that crime statistics for England and Wales will double this summer when the Office for National Statistics (ONS) begin to include a category of cybercrime, alongside other types such as burglary, when it publishes its Crime Survey on 21 July.

A field trial by the ONS last summer found 2.5 million incidents of “computer misuse” – affecting 46 for every 1,000 adults in England and Wales.

Mr Marlow said: “Viruses and other malware are constantly evolving but the blunt truth for any business here in the county is if you don’t have adequate protection through properly deployed anti-virus software, you will be attacked.

“Online criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and it means businesses could have their systems affected even if they aren’t the intended target.

“There are countless examples from across the region where businesses have unintentionally sent spam emails to customers and compromised their security, personal information and reputation. Even worse, there is a growing trend in businesses having their files encrypted and held to ransom. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

To combat the cyber criminals, Mr Marlow said businesses need to be pro-active and carry out a full review of their network security, identify their potential failure points and review their disaster recovery plan.

“All desktop computers, laptops, mobile devices and servers connected to a network have to be protected. Statistics show that people are more likely to be attacked through their computer than in person.  It’s frightening but true and that’s why businesses and individuals across Worcestershire must take action, protect themselves with robust and more sophisticated anti-virus software, and fight back against cybercrime.”

Mr Marlow’s warning comes after police forces in the region urged businesses to sign up to the West Midlands Regional Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP).

Minster Micro Computers is a leading provider of IT security software, including BitDefender and server monitoring applications, along with tools to minimise downtime.

The company has more than 35 years’ experience supporting a range of business sectors. It is an accredited SAP Business One Partner and is a provider of Pegasus business software. The firm supplies payroll software, training and implementation as well as IT support services.

Businesses looking for advice on their cyber security arrangements can email [email protected] or telephone 01562 68211.

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