There are many ways in which a company can benefit from business IT support, be it upgrading to more modern equipment, fixing bugs, or adding new software and services. But one of the most crucial of all is IT security.

Most firms are aware of the dangers that exist out there, from dodgy links on unsafe websites through to phishing emails and a mix of malware and ransomware in attachments.

However, some might be tempted to get a little complacent after reading of some recent developments in the news.

Cyber Crime Suspects Caught

For instance, the US and Europe have announced major takedowns of organised cybercrime operations. In the American case, Chinese national YunHe Wang has been arrested and a range of assets believed to be bought through his ill-gotten gains have been seized, including more than 20 properties, luxury cars and expensive watches.

In Europe, Europol has made four arrests and is searching for eight more individuals who are on the run.

Both events are linked to the busting of the world’s biggest botnet network. Botnets are used to infect and take over computers, delete files, add software and conduct criminal activity such as making fraudulent benefit claims

Nicole Argentieri, the principal deputy assistant attorney general at the US Department of Justice, said: “Wang created malware that compromised millions of residential computers around the world and then sold access to the infected computers to cybercriminals.” Mr Wang now faces multiple charges – and decades in prison if convicted.

The Risk Remains

It may be reassuring to note that there are organisations all over the world aiming to crack down on what is often a major international network of crime. However, while some may eventually get caught, many more will still be out there today – and your company’s computers may be their next target.

To understand just how important it is for everyone to be on their toes and for companies to make sure they keep on getting the expert security support they need, one only needs to look at some of the latest data on the losses incurred and damage done through cybercrime in the UK.

Much of this is contained in the Cyberedge 2022 Cyberthreat Defence Report produced last year, an international survey that made possible comparisons between the UK and 16 other nations.

Its findings include the fact that in the financial year of 2021-22, 81 per cent of UK organisations were the victims of successful cyber attacks. This was up ten per cent from the previous year, although at least the UK was not as badly hit as some countries; the report revealed over 90 per cent of organisations in Colombia, Turkey and Spain were affected.

Of the attacks, ransomware was by far the most common, with 73 per cent of UK organisations hit, up 15 per cent year-on-year. In 13 per cent of cases, the company concerned paid up.

However, the IT security in place stopped 43 per cent of attempted ransomware attacks, showing how effective investing in robust protection measures can be.

Of the 17 countries in the survey, the UK had the fifth-lowest rate of spending on security, at just 11.3 per cent of IT budgets. Even so, this still represented a significant year-on-year increase, from £4 billion to £5.3 billion, showing that many companies are realising just how potent the growing threat is.

This is worth it because the report showed the average cost of a ransomware attack was $US1.08 million (£850,000).

Insurers React Against Ransomware In The UK

Given the impact of ransomware above all other forms of cybercrime in the UK, it may be significant to note that the cyber insurance industry has come together to unite against ransom payments being made.

As the National Cyber Security Service (NCSC) reported last month, the three main umbrella organisations in the insurance sector, the Association of British Insurers, British Insurance Brokers’ Association and International Underwriting Association, came together to pledge more support for firms hit by ransomware.

This included urging victims to closely study NCSC guidance on how to deal with such situations. But it also highlighted the fact that paying up does not prevent repeats, while it encourages the criminals to make further attacks.

It may be good news to see the alleged criminals behind botnets and ransomware being caught and facing the prospect of a long time behind bars, but there are many more where they came from. As the threat grows, your company needs to be among those seeking more support to ensure your security.