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People, not machines, are the key to stamping down cyber crime. The comments come as new report today revealed that more than 25% of UK councils have had their computer systems breached in the past five years.

A report by privacy group Big Brother Watch based on freedom of information requests found 114 councils experienced at least one incident between 2013 and 2017. It said the majority of successful cyber-attacks began with phishing emails designed to trick staff into revealing passwords and other data.

What’s more, the study found that three-quarters of councils did not provide mandatory cyber-security training, and 16% did not provide any at all.

Nigel Taylor, Managing Director of Taylor Made Computer Solutions, says: “The figures make for uncomfortable reading, particular considering the sensitive nature of data councils can hold. While technology is constantly evolving, it’s ultimately people, not machines, who have the ability to fight cyber crime.

“CEOs and IT managers are ultimately in the hands of their staff to halt these attacks at the front line. By ensuring employees, from the reception desk to the boardroom, know exactly what to look out for can potentially thwart a significant cyber attack.

“This shouldn’t be a one-off employee briefing either. These hackers are always finding new ways to trick people so keeping on top of the latest trends and implementing regular training is vital.”

Reflecting on the practicalities of councils introducing cyber security training Nigel said: “We all know that local authorities are under immense pressure when it comes to budgets and I completely sympathise. Of course it’s hard to justify spending money when cuts are being made in difficult areas.

However, the implications of a cyber attack could have even bigger impact on the public purse than the cost of training itself.”

Taylor Made’s tips for being more cyber savvy

  • Hold regular training with all staff to teach them how to spot dodgy emails
  • If you have the slightest doubt about the authenticity of an email don’t click the link
  • ALWAYS hover over links to see where they lead to – if it’s a strange or unrelated website it’s likely to be a virus
  • Be wary of clicking links in emails from mobile phones and tablets – these devices don’t give you the option to hover over and see where the link leads
  • Poor grammar is often a tell-tale sign of a scam email
  • Forget the myth that Apple devices are immune from viruses

For more advice on keeping your organisation safe from cyber criminals visit HERE

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