Barclays launches major drive to help SMEs tackle cybercrime

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  • Barclays has launched a nationwide campaign to help small businesses tackle cybercrime and fraud, with new research suggesting that online fraud has resulted in the loss of more than 50,000 jobs in the UK to date as SMEs had to make redundancies to recover costs.

    The research for Barclays by YouGov showed that almost half of SMEs surveyed (44 per cent) had been targeted by fraudsters, with approximately one in four (23 per cent) of those targeted having fallen victim.

    The average cost of a fraud to a business in the UK was almost £35,000[ii]. If these figures were applied to Northern Ireland’s more than 130,000 SMEs, the total cost would equate to more than £1bn to date.

    The findings were unveiled at a cyber-skills masterclass for Barclays Business Banking clients hosted by football legend and business owner Sol Campbell.

    In two thirds of cases across the UK, the businesses had to cover costs themselves[iii] – money that could otherwise have been invested in jobs, training or new equipment. 

    Barclays has seen a rise in sophisticated fraud with criminals targeting SMEs. This includes using “social engineering,” with emails or phone calls impersonating people such as suppliers, staff members or even the CEO, tricking victims into giving out information or making payments.

    Barclays has stepped up its mission to educate customers, including SMEs, about the growing risks of fraud and cybercrime, investing over £18 million during the past 24 months on its national Digisafe campaign, which has already engaged five million people. The bank has also prevented over £857 million of potential fraud and scams (more than £35 per customer) in the last year.

    Barclays also hosts workshops, the next of which will be taking place at the Barclays Eagle Lab at Ormeau Baths in Belfast on May 21, featuring speakers like Information Security Guru, Sean Hanna, who has over 25 years' technical experience in cyber security.

    Joanna McArdle, Relationship Director, Barclays Northern Ireland, said: “We’re on a mission to educate all small businesses of the growing risk of cybercrime and fraud. This isn’t a problem faced solely by big businesses – smaller, local companies are becoming increasingly targeted.

    “The staggering cost of these crimes can stop a small business from investing in new jobs, training or equipment, in turn boosting local economies.

    “Fraudsters are targeting hard-working entrepreneurs, in some cases impersonating suppliers and staff, intercepting emails and sending fake invoices. Barclays in Northern Ireland has noticed a significant increase in these attacks on local SMEs over the past twelve months.

    “However, the good news is that the vast majority of fraud against businesses can be easily prevented. Simple steps to increase security, such as having strong passwords and increased staff awareness, can all help combat fraud.”

    Sol Campbell, Arsenal football legend and business owner, said: “With a rise in online crime, it’s more important than ever that businesses keep an eye on the ball when it comes to cyber security.

    “In business as in football, you have to be strong, versatile and flexible - and as a defender, you need to trust your natural instincts. If an email or call sounds fake, check it.

    “Playing as a team and training are vital in business as well as sport. Managers should invest time letting staff know about the dangers of scams.

    “As an owner of a small business that has fallen foul of cyber criminals, I’m particularly keen to raise awareness and show fraudsters the red card.”

    [i] 10.6% of all SMEs surveyed had suffered a cyber-attack. 8.58% of these had made staff redundant to cover the cost of cybercrime. There are 5,687,000 small and medium-sized businesses in the UK (source: researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06152/SN06152.pdf) meaning a minimum of 52,120 business have made at least one redundancy as a result of cybercrime

    [ii] Average cost per affected company was £34,942

    [iii] In only 33% of cases was the cost of the crime covered by either a bank, credit card provider or insurer

    Research was conducted by YouGov between 29th January and 9th February 2018 amongst 1,060 SME decision makers.

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