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FSA: Cybercriminals are infiltrating companies

The Financial Services Authority has warned that criminal gangs are increasingly placing people in companies to steal data and aid cybercrime attacks

Criminals are attempting to plant insiders in companies to help them to commit financial and cyber crimes, experts warned on Friday.

According to a report published by the Financial Services Authority, this activity is set to rise and businesses need to vet potential staff more carefully before employing them.

"Hackers and fraudsters are refining and improving their techniques as we speak," said Philip Robinson, financial crime sector leader at the FSA. "Firms will have to run to stand still if they are to protect their assets and those of their customers. The major banks tend to have strong defences in place, but there is no room for complacency and criminals will seek to exploit vulnerable points where they can find them, including in other sectors or smaller firms."

The FSA said that while larger enterprises had built defences to protect against hacking threats, small to medium-sized businesses were likely to suffer through lack of preparation.

The report, called Countering Financial Crime Risks in Information Security , found that firms had suffered few financial losses through cybercrime, but that they could be doing more to prevent attacks. It also recommended that managers take responsibility for securing data and examining current attack trends.

"Consumers must take steps to prevent attacks from fraudsters, by taking care when disclosing their personal details or following the security tips offered by their online banking service," said Robinson.

The FSA said that businesses aren't spending enough on security, which includes a failure to spend enough on modifying legacy systems to improve their security. It also criticised companies for failing to build relations with government bodies, which it said were working to reduce financial crime.

The report reviewed 18 UK firms.