Company directors 'exposed' to computer crime

Half of the directors in the FTSE 1000 say their company has been the victim of computer crime, yet almost a third of in the UK remain unaware of the threat and its legal implications

Nearly a third of Britain's leading company directors remain unaware of the legal risk of computer crime, security firm Integralis revealed Monday. This, despite the fact that half the FTSE 1000 company directors questioned by Integralis admitted their company had been the victim of some form of computer crime.

Marketing manager at Integralis Philip Wicks says these directors are taking a serious gamble. "They are exposed in that they are liable legally to make sure adequate precautions have been taken against these threats," says Wicks.

Sales director for British security firm Information Risk Management David Cazalet, however, says that despite the report's findings, directors are becoming more aware of potential dangers. "What you are starting to see now is that company directors -- because of their fiduciary duties -- are taking more of an interest in this."

Thirty percent of the companies questioned by Integralis said they have an ongoing relationship with the police as a result of attempted security breaches.

Head of the Cybercrime Unit at Integralis, Richard Walters, calls on all companies to wake up to the growing hazards of computer crime. "Cybercrime has become an issue of global concern. Crime is an ever-changing reality and advances in technology are providing new channels for criminal activity. Information security must be taken seriously and financial resources need to be invested into building a solid security system."

Integralis suggests that many computer-related risks could be avoided through the education of employees and proper staff guidelines.

According to Wicks, the remedy is twofold. "Technology can be put in place to overcome this, but you also need to educate employees so that they know what the possible risks are," he adds.

It is evident, however, that insurers are becoming more aware of the dangers that companies face. Lloyds of London last week announced plans to offer "hacking insurance" for firms in cooperation with US security company Counterpane.

Integralis says that while businesses in Britain are regularly exposed to computer dangers such as viruses and computer hacking, there is also a significant, but lesser-known, threat from disgruntled employees exposing sensitive company information via a computer network.

The security firm's research found that 95 percent of company directors believe that the threat of computer crime is likely to get worse.

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