Crooks now posing as cyber experts

Matt Horan, security director of cyber-security business C3IA Solutions

Cyber security has experienced a major boom since lockdowns forced people to work from home and crooks are taking advantage, a leading expert has said.

Matt Horan, security director of C3IA Solutions, has warned that criminals are posing as cyber experts to gain access to businesses’ systems.

Government figures have shown that the number of cyber firms has grown by 21 per cent since Covid hit, and 50,000 people are now employed in the fast-growing sector that contributed £4bn to the economy last year.

But as businesses attempt to secure their networks and computers they might be inadvertently inviting in cyber crooks.

Matt’s company based in Poole, Dorset, was one of the first six to be certified by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

He said: “It is good news that more businesses are identifying cyber security as something they need to improve.

“We’ve been banging that drum for some years, but it is having so many people working from home that has led employers doing something to protect their information.

“The number of companies taking up basic certifications such as Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus highlights the increased concern.

“And it is this growth in demand for cyber security that has encouraged criminals to pose as security professionals.

“They will call and pretend to be cyber security experts who can help you – and some even have convincing websites. Anyone can just set themselves up as a cyber expert.

“Convincing someone you are a cyber expert is a swift way to gain access to a company’s information.

“I have taken calls myself from people pretending that they had identified a problem with my computer and if I followed their instructions they’d help me.

“It’s really important people do due diligence on any company or individual they instruct. Don’t follow instructions of a cold caller and don’t just click on a first Google result.

“There is only one UK Government standard in existence and that is through the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the British Government’s National Technical Authority for all things cyber and information assurance.

“Many companies not certified under this scheme are professional in the way they deliver their services and do provide value and a good service.

“However, such services should be delivered by professionals with the appropriate certifications and cyber skills.

“It is ironic that companies which realise they need cyber security might invite a cyber crook into the heart of their systems.

“Cyber security is a relatively new sector and it is important that its reputation is good so people will continue to look to secure their systems.

“Over the past 12 months we have seen an increased number of criminals actively exploiting the vulnerabilities of businesses and individuals online.

“With lockdowns preventing more traditional crime we think some of these individuals have moved into the cyber sector.

“So we’d urge everyone instructing a cyber firm of cyber professional to check credentials and certifications.”

Here’s how Matt dealt with a fraud caller who was pretending to be a cyber expert…