I’m “only” from Staffordshire – the cybersecurity delusion

Tasha Horton Cybersecurity

As IT security specialists in Staffordshire when we broach the subject of cybersecurity we very often hear the same excuse. “Oh, but we’re only from Staffordshire, we’re not in danger.” Does that sound anything like you? Unfortunately, that’s a wide-reaching and damaging delusion.

We have a tendency to feel that other, bigger, farther away businesses in say London will be hit by cyber-attacks. Not us, the smaller business in Staffordshire, we’re not a target compared to the big boys.

That could not be further from the truth.

The seemingly dramatic rise in cybercrime has not just been dramatized by the news. There has been a real tangible growth in cybercrime. It’s got so bad that around 43% of businesses have been affected by cybercrime in the last year alone. And if they haven’t been personally affected the chances are they know someone who has been.

It’s time to end the delusion that just because you’re a small business tucked away in a small city that there’s no one’s targeting you, because they are.

In fact, small businesses are often the primary target for hackers because they offer such easy prey and can still make reasonable sized payments. Cybersecurity has become a deadly loop. Because small businesses don’t believe they’ll be targeted they don’t implement cybersecurity procedures, making them easier targets, resulting in them being more likely to be targeted than a larger counterpart.

But once the cybercriminals hit it’s too late. You can implement all the security measures you like afterwards but if you’d been proactive you could have avoided all the pain.

The reality in Staffordshire

Just before Christmas, we hosted a cybersecurity seminar. We hosted it at Bet 365 stadium, put on breakfast sandwiches and got Staffordshire’s digital PCSO involved. 75 businesses book on, we were thrilled. We ordered extra sandwiches to cater for all the extra attendees and printed off extra collateral. But come the day of the event and 15 people turned up. 15.

We wasted a lot of time, money and sadly food, not to mention the time of the digital PCSO to cater to what we thought were 75 keen businesses. We understand things happen and not everyone can attend but we only got 7 apologies.

Despite the fantastic feedback we got from the 15 businesses who attended even those who were proactive and came along didn’t all have a happy ending. One business, in particular, were very interested in taking up a lot of our cybersecurity specialist solutions.

So, we had a sit down with them and went over a plan of action and left them to think it over. But inevitably they got bogged down in the day to day and our plan of action got pushed to the bottom of the pile despite our reminders and chasing.

Come New Year and unfortunately the inevitable happened. They were hit by massive cyber-attack and you’ll never guess who the next people they called were. You guessed it, it was us. Within minutes of their call, we identified that there was still fraudulent activity on their system. Multiple cybercriminals were lurking in their system and monitoring them. We instantly removed the cybercriminals and upgraded their security.

But it was already too late, the damage had been done and they lost £200,000. They were a local business in Stoke-on-Trent just like you. They had the best of intentions to protect their business but because they got bogged down in the day to day and thought they wouldn’t get hit they put it off.

If only they’d taken action asap, all this could have been avoided and they’d never have had to go through the pain of losing £200,000. Sadly, it went down the wrong way with this case, but you still have time.

Act now. Do not delay. You are only a business in Staffordshire, but you are being targeted.