Greater education needed to protect online businesses

While the internet has created a wealth of opportunities for individuals and businesses, it has also spawned an ever-increasing number of threats and it's up to the industry to unite with government and law enforcement agencies to ensure proactive prevention rather than reactionary cures.

That's what an audience of business decision makers were told at an online security event held this morning at the Tower of London, which was hosted by internet service provider (ISP) Claranet.

The event entitled 'Defending your information - stop the hackers before they stop you' brought together experts in the field of information security and e-crime from the Metropolitan Police and leading players like Microsoft so that they could share their experiences and help educate organisations to be more aware of the cons, as well as the pros, of the web.

"Generally the internet is a pretty insecure place to do business, but we love it," said Marino Zini, head of managed services at Claranet.

The threats to online business extend beyond viruses and hackers to include human error, natural disasters, bandwidth outages, fraud and what the competition are up to, according to Zini.

"Being proactive requires a high level of skills, technology and education and can be expensive but having to put out fires could be more costly than being proactive," Zini added.

"But being reactive is the way information security has evolved."

The message of spreading the word and educating business stakeholders from board level right down to the most junior of employers was echoed by detective chief inspector (DCI) Charlie McMurdie, head of e-crime for the Metropolitan Police.

"If you're a newsagent or a small shop owner you're expected to protect your business with windows and doors and take some kind of kite-marked approach to looking after your stock," she said.

"If someone breaks your windows and steals your stock, it can usually be quiet easily replaced, but if someone breaks into the computer you use to run your business and deletes files, corrupts data or steals your customer database it could result in far more long-term harm."

McMurdie added: "We need to provide a coordinated response from industry, government and law enforcement if we're to deliver a satisfactory [security] service.

Today's event was the second in a series of Claranet-sponsored seminars designed to help companies navigate and overcome the increasingly complex issues that may result in business downtime for online players.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.