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Cybercrime a huge threat to economy

Th hacker used the online alias Spiderman

Cybercrime constitutes a huge threat to states` economies and it is critical to raise awareness, have the appropriate tools to shield national economies and to have a good level of cooperation between the stakeholders, a conference in Nicosia on Thursday revealed.

The Conference titled “How [email protected] is your Business?“ organised by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) and the Cyprus Neuroscience and Technology Institute (CNTI), was addressed, among others, by Luigi Rebuffi, Secretary General of European Cybersecurity Organisation (ECSO) and George Michaelides, Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation of Cyprus (OCERCPR).

It is estimated that 43 per cent of cyber attacks target SMEs. Cybercrime costs are projected to reach €2 trillion euro by 2019 whereas 19 per cent of Business in the EU admitted that they have been attacked. Sixty eight percent of funds are lost as a result of a cyber attack and these funds were declared unrecoverable. In 2015 there were 38 per cent more security incidents detected than in 2014 while only 38 per cent of global organisations claim they are prepared to handle a sophisticated cyberattack.

ECSO was founded six months ago with members from a wide variety of stakeholders such as large European companies, SMEs and Start-ups, users and operators, research centres and universities.

The EU will invest €450 million in this partnership. This initiative is expected to raise close to €1.8 billion of investment by 2020 in order to develop innovative and trusted cybersecurity solutions, products and services in Europe.
CCCI Secretary General Marios Tsiakkis told the conference that cybersecurity is a booming sector in the EU economy and beyond, underlining however that Europe and Cyprus have still a long way to go from being at the right level of preparedness to counter the rapidly evolving cyber threats.

Spam, ransomware, and phishing are currently the most common, and certainly the most egregious forms of cyberattacks that small businesses face. He said that a relevant study of the Institute of Directors in the UK, reveals that just 28 per cent of cyber attacks are being reported to the police. At the same time only 57 per cent have a formal strategy in place to protect themselves and only 20 per cent hold insurance against an attack.

Tsiakkis said that what was alarming, especially for Cyprus, was that while big corporations get most of the media attention when it comes to cyber incidents, new information from global reports reveals that nearly half of all cybercrime targets are SMEs, giving hackers access to huge amounts of cash and information.

“What we certainly know is that we urgently need a coordinated effort by all stakeholders to improve cyber resilience. Our aim is to create the necessary awareness among the business community, of the need to put cybersecurity issues very high on their agenda“, he said.

George Michaelides, Commissioner of Electronic Communications & Postal Regulation said that building awareness for SMEs is very important because if these companies are attacked, the whole economy of the state is affected. He pointed out that nobody works in isolation, adding that Information technologies must have a level of security for the benefit of each citizen and companies.

“There must be greater awareness of the public about the threats and cooperation between the stakeholders. This trust between the stakeholders is the most challenging thing and the key to successful implementation of the state`s strategy“, Michaelides said.

He also spoke of the need to have cooperation and collaboration between public and private sector as well as cooperation at National, European and International level.

It is estimated that phishing & Ransomware will get worse in 2017. More than 90 per cent of cyber attacks begin with spear phishing. He added that ransomware will adopt the good old tactic of computer worms, which internally propagate inside a network to infect multiple hosts and seek access to expose sensitive data.

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