Take Action and Defend Against Cybercrime Says Clark IT Boss

A North-east technology boss has urged small businesses to take action to protect themselves from the scourge of cybercrime, saying they cannot afford to become the victim of hackers.

When big businesses like Talk Talk and Ashley Madison are hacked it makes headline news but taking the threat of cyber security seriously is critical for every single business, regardless of size, according to Austen Clark, managing director of Clark IT.

That was his key message to a major two-day security summit held in Aberdeen this week which put cybercrime at the top of the agenda.

Clark IT provides managed ICT solutions to SMEs across Scotland and beyond and smaller firms are statistically less likely to have safeguards in place to protect them from the real and growing menace of cybercrime, says Mr Clark.

"As cybercriminals become more determined and better organised, SMEs cannot afford to take their eyes off the ball.

"The importance of economic viability of our small and medium sized businesses cannot be overstressed – they account for 47 per cent of private sector turnover and employ 60 per cent of the private sector workforce.

"Cyber crime is a bit like the elephant in the room – everyone has heard of it and has stories relating to 'other businesses' but no one wants to admit they have been hit by a cyberattack as there seems to be a stigma around being a victim of a scam or con."

Mr Clark was among guest speakers which included anti-terrorism experts, policy makers and business leaders at the two-day global security and cyber summit which reinforced the need for collaboration in the oil capital of Europe.

Two thirds of small businesses have been the victim to cybercrime in the past two years, while over a third of small businesses do not report crime against their business, recent research conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has shown.

Small businesses can be easy targets for cyber criminals, mainly due to a lack of budget, inadequate security policies and a general lack of knowledge of cyber security issues, said Mr Clark, who offered some simple steps for good cyber hygiene including:

  • Network Security - have firewalls with appropriate configurations
  • Teach good practice – through staff training and education and have a policy in place for what is permitted on an organisation’s IT devices
  • Manage IT privileges - restrict IT admin and access rights to specific users
  • Keep IT up-to-date - install software updates
  • Removable media - have a formal policy on what can be stored on removable devices
  • Mobile working – have a formal policy covering home or mobile working
  • Use anti-malware defences and have malware protection
  • Monitor user activity or have regular health checks to identify cyber security risks
  • Incident Management – have a formal incident management plan in place

Thomas McCarthy of conference organisers OSP Security Professionals welcomed Mr Clark’s input, saying the knowledge sharing from a range of keynote speakers with extensive experience in the technology and security environments was invaluable.

The summit was chaired by John Holmes, former commanding officer of UK Special Forces and now chairman of Quintel Intelligence and was held at Ardoe House on May 24 and 25.

Mr McCarthy said: "This is our inaugural event in Aberdeen and it’s been hugely successful and had put the issues of cybercrime firmly in focus. We’ve been delighted to have professionals who are at the top of their game come and share their knowledge and expertise with delegates.

"It has been an opportunity for oil and gas professionals to understand what threats their companies face and learn from the best people in the security field."

Founded 25 years ago, Clark IT is based near Turriff in Aberdeenshire. The firm is one of Scotland’s leading independent providers of managed ICT solutions with a broad range of corporate and commercial clients across Scotland and beyond.

Clark IT clients benefit from the specialist knowledge of the firm’s 26-strong team to support their systems through managed IT services. Clients also benefit from Pro-active IT Support, 24/7 Monitoring, A virtual IT Manager, IT costs fixed for three years and a strategic IT plan tailor-made for their business.