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The cyber security arms race

Cyber security hit the headlines again recently when TalkTalk boss Dido Harding revealed she had been sent a ransom demand following a security breach. Harding is now in the middle of an all-out offensive to strengthen data security, combating the “cyber security arms race” that she says is a threat to all UK firms. As criminals increase their skills, so must the business community.

Statistics show that cybercrime is reaching new heights. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)’ Information Security Survey 2015 shows that 90 per cent of large organisations – employing more than 500 people – experienced a security breach, an increase of 81 per cent from the previous year’s survey. The figure is similarly high for small businesses, with nearly three quarters (74%) reporting a breach of security.

The cost of such breaches is also on the rise. The bill from business disruption, lost sales, recovery of assets, fines and compensation quickly adds up. In the most recent BIS survey, the average minimum cost to a large organisation has risen to £1.46 million in 2015 – an increase of £860,000 from the £600,000 average in 2014. For a small business this figure has risen from £65,000 in 2014 to £75,200 in 2015.

As the BIS figures show, businesses – of whatever size – cannot afford to ignore the importance of ensuring adequate systems are in place to prevent cybercrime and fraud. At Tungsten, data is our bread and butter. We work with both buyer and supplier communities encompassing businesses of all sizes – from large multinationals to sole traders – and deal with huge swathes of sensitive customer data. We processed more than 14.8 million invoices for these companies in 2014 alone and therefore take data security extremely seriously.

ISO 27001 is an international industry-recognised certificate to verify that a business has the appropriate controls in place for keeping data secure and Tungsten’s efforts have again been recognised with an upgrade to the latest standard and renewal of the certificate.

As well as keeping our customers’ data safe and offering peace of mind that we are a secure business partner, we also help our clients improve their own data security. Through using Tungsten’s e-invoicing technology the protection against fraudulent invoices is significantly improved.

Traditional paper invoicing can raise a number of difficulties for businesses not least due to a higher risk of human error. It’s also important to be aware that fraudsters spend a huge amount of time and money producing paper invoices that look exactly like the real thing but with different bank details.

With the severity and frequency of attacks rising, businesses can’t afford to ignore the risk of cybercrime. As Harding commented, it is happening to a huge number of organisations all the time: “The awful truth is that every company, every organisation in the UK needs to spend more money and put more focus on cyber security – it’s the crime of our era.”

In the future, more people will place greater emphasis on choosing business partners with the highest standards on data security. Fortunately, the use of technology to prevent crime is likely to grow, but as per the ISO certification it’s also about the processes that must be put in place to ensure that security can be maintained 24/7. Make sure your business is ready.

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