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'It's easier to hack humans than a computer system'

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THE threat of cyber crime to businesses and individuals can seem far-fetched, but is very real, experts told a local event hosted by Barclays.

Cyber crime and fraud today is hugely profitable and a big threat to local businesses.

'Cyber crime is the most profitable form of organised crime in the UK, and globally has reached a scale never seen before,' said Dan Tinsley, Barclays' senior vice-president of cyber intelligence.

'Last year the top theft was $20m. and there are more than one million victims every day of cyber crime and related hacking. There is a notion of this all being rather "Hollywood" but it's very real.'

Mr Tinsley said that Barclays has more than 1,100 people working in security and the bank took an intelligence-led approach and was increasingly collaborating and sharing information with other financial institutions and law enforcement agencies.

'We aim to stay a step ahead of the fraudsters,' he said, 'we try to infiltrate ourselves to protect our customers and ourselves. The best form of defence is to be proactive.'

Simon Placks, forensic investigations director at Deloitte, said that the biggest threat to companies often came from within the organisation.

'People often assume, wrongly, that vulnerabilities in software or systems are the sole concerns for businesses. However, it is businesses' employees that are the easiest target for perpetrators of cybercrime,' he said.

'By monitoring emails and business activity, fraudsters can make a request very believable. Using simple spoof email address software they are able to pose as a senior manager requesting an urgent bank transfer.

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'A simple act like this can cost a company millions, so it's important to educate employees on how to protect themselves and the business from cyber attacks.

'It is easier to hack the human rather than the computer system. Email frauds are so easy and can be so convincing. Why bother hacking if you can spoof and people will fall for it?'

Barclays locally say that more frauds today are being reported.

'It is important to create a culture where your employees are encouraged to report fraud threats, even if they have been unwillingly involved,' Mr Tinsley said.

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