Digital and technology

Keeping Northern Ireland safe from cyber crime

Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Grant, from the PSNI’s Cyber Crime Centre, describes the current threats from Cyber Crime and reveals what we need to do to keep Northern Ireland industry and businesses safe. 

The internet has revolutionised our lives. It has transformed the way we socialise, communicate, play and learn. It has also had a major impact on the way we work. Every day we see faster and more efficient ways of working that utilise a vast and increasing array of software and hardware innovations.

These developments increase our ability to communicate, transact and promote our businesses’ objectives. But they also pose risks. Those risks include: unseen vulnerabilities in the software and hardware that could eventually be exploited by criminals; the tsunami of personal information that we publish too easily and frequently on social media that enables criminals to target us and our businesses; the ability of criminal groups to target millions of potential victims in one day through compromising emails, and the risk of an insider, whether that’s a disgruntled employee or a targeted infiltration of your company or network. All of this can make the cyber environment a potentially dangerous place to be.

We know what the threats are and we know from media reports that international companies are being targeted and industry nationally have become victims. We know that the hackers, the criminals, the hacktivists, the blackhat developers, whatever term we use, are not only residing abroad but also within local communities. 

Every day, businesses and industry fall victim to cyber attacks in Northern Ireland but the prevention measures implemented by a company will determine the impact of the attack and reduce the risk of catastrophic losses. Many attacks are thwarted not only through technological defences but increasingly through educated, trained and alert employees at all levels who take cyber security seriously!

There needs to be a varied response when it comes to defending against cyber-attacks and Northern Ireland is fortunate to be supported by an effective and professional multi-agency law enforcement response under the Organised Crime Task Force. This has been built and developed over a number of years and focuses on three key initiatives to prevent and protect businesses and industry in Northern Ireland from cyber-attacks.

1.   Northern Ireland was one of the first regions to develop a regional Node in the Cyber Information Sharing Partnership (CiSP) which enables every company, after a security check, to share and receive the latest threat information on the CiSP platform.

2.   Cyber Essentials: This is a government backed basic security accreditation for SMEs and large industry supply chain that aims to ensure that businesses have basic cyber hygiene to provide reassurance that their data and systems are protected. Businesses using Cyber Essentials can gain formal accreditation to provide assurance to their partners that they have the necessary basic protection in place.

3.   Reporting: The PSNI utilises the Action Fraud reporting network for fraud and internet related crime but business and industry in Northern Ireland can also use the PSNI Cyber Crime Reporting Portal on the PSNI website. The portal can be used to report cyber incidents or suspicious behaviour and request assistance or guidance from dedicated cyber investigators in the PSNI Cyber Crime Centre. 

Please don’t leave yourself vulnerable to Cyber Crime. Take these simple steps to help protect your business.

For further information, help or advice from the PSNI in relation to keeping your business safe online, please email the Cyber Crime Centre on:

DCI Douglas Grant

PSNI Cyber Crime Centre

Belfast BT4 2PP

Tel: 101


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