News: Preventing Cyber Attacks

Posted on 4th October 2018

The following article was given to me by Helen at Bennett Christmas:-

Today, cyber-crime is one of the biggest concerns for businesses, with cyber-attacks taking simple and more sophisticated forms, in criminals’ bids to access systems and data. Tradespeople and the self-employed, should be particularly vigilant. One wrong click of an email or allowing your financial data to fall into the wrong hands, can leave you vulnerable to cyber-crime. 

What types of cyber-attacks are there?

This summer, a tradesman local to Northern Ireland fell victim to one of these cyber-attacks when his emails were infiltrated by hackers. His account was used to email one of his customers, posing as the tradesman. The hacker asked them to pay the remainder of the balance owed to him into a new bank account. Having no reason to suspect foul play, the customer paid the remainder into this new account, which actually belonged to the hacker. Luckily, the fraud was uncovered in time for the customer to cancel the transaction. But it’s not always the case. And banks aren’t obligated to reverse or reimburse payments made willingly by customers, despite any irregularities. People who’ve been duped in this way have lost as much as £25,000 in some instances.

So how can businesses prevent cyber-attacks?

They’re not easy to prevent but there are certain things you can do to protect against cyber-attacks. Awareness of the methods criminals use for instance, can help in your defence against cyber attacks.

For instance in only recent months, scammers have been phoning tradesmen, posing as HMRC and leaving messages demanding the victim make an immediate payment because they’re under investigation. HMRC reported 84,549 fraudulent tax refund messages in March 2018 alone. And by using the same methods as HMRC’s, the hackers add credibility to the scam.

The best defence against cyber-attacks really is to be aware of the scams and methods used, make your staff aware of them and be extremely vigilant.

  • Example, if you receive a call from an official body, like the HMRC, you can simply end the call and call them back using the official telephone number from their website.

Spotting a fake HMRC email

Cyber hackers can make communications that appear genuine, so here are some things to be aware of in your defense against cyber-attacks:

  • Watch out for common greetings such as ‘Dear Customer’ or Dear [email address] – if it’s genuine, they should know your name.
  • Does it look like a genuine email address?
  • Hover over links you’re asked to follow and check the link address in the bottom-left corner of your screen to see where it really leads.
  • Genuine emails will never ask you for personal information or offer a tax refund.
  • You should be wary of anything that states ‘Urgent Action Required’.

If you have any suspicions, delete the email and call the official HMRC number.

Passwords and two-step identification

You should always make sure you use strong passwords and avoid using obvious ones like family or pet names. It’s advisable to use different passwords for different accounts. To further protect against cyber-attacks, try using two-step identification where possible. Finally, it’s wise to agree payment terms with your customer in advance and advise them that any changes need to be agreed on in advance, ideally face to face.

Cyber Insurance For Peace Of Mind

Even with these measures in place, it’s extremely difficult to prevent cyber-attacks. One way to have peace of mind is by taking out a specialist cyber insurance policy which can cover you for business interruption, investigation costs, data recovery, theft, legal fees, compensation costs and more. And our scheme also comes with a 24 hour hotline, with experts on hand, day or night, to guide and advise you on what to do in the event of a cyber-attack.

If you’d like some specialist advice on cyber insurance, have a chat with our cyber expert Jeremy on 01444 810 442 or email him.

Back to News ›


"The BHBPA is the most effective and dynamic business organisation I have ever worked with in over 30 years in Local Government. It has a very active and large membership whose points of view are taken seriously by all government structures. Peter Liddell does an excellent job in providing unique and enjoyable networking opportunities where members interact and discuss points of mutual interest. It provides a forum for businesses to discuss common issues, to share experiences and to play a powerful and meaningful role in the Burgess Hill community. The BHBPA provides important and credible support for all its members and ensures that their best interests are represented where necessary. "

Steve Cridland, CEO
(Burgess Hill Town Council)

"I am delighted to have a long-standing relationship with the BHBPA. Since its foundation the Association has gone from strength to strength and there is no doubt that it has brought huge benefits to its members and the business community as a whole through the partnerships it has formed with the local authorities, Sussex Police and local organisations. It is paramount that Burgess Hill businesses have an effective collective voice."

The Hon Nicholas Soames MP

"The BHBPA is a fantastic hub for our business community to get together and catch up, discuss important local issues and connect new and interesting enterprises."

Oliver Lashley , Director
(Pure Storm Digital Services )

"As the local hospice for the area, it’s great that we receive so much support from the BHBPA. Last year the members raised an amazing £2150 through activities such as Bake Off and the BHBiz Awards. Each well planned members meeting enables good networking opportunities and speakers that are relevant to the present climate and local issues. We are proud to be members of BHBPA."

Wendy Agate, Community Fund Raising Manager
(St Peter & St James Hospice)