Attempts to encourage more UK firms to embrace e-business are at risk of being thwarted by the threat of cybercrime.
Despite a number of high-profile virus attacks, and the well-publicised threat that malicious hackers can pose to computer systems, business leaders are concerned that some companies aren't doing enough to protect themselves from the threat of hi-tech crime.
Two organisations, the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) and the Information Assurance Advisory Council (IAAC), are planning to take action.
The BCC, which represents 135,000 small and medium-sized businesses, announced on Tuesday that it is launching a campaign to boost awareness of the threat of cybercrime.
Businesses are losing millions of pounds a year through cybercrime, according to the BCC. The organisation believes that many firms don't fully comprehend the dangers, while others simply aren't prepared to admit that their systems are vulnerable.
"Many small firms find it hard enough simply to incorporate technology into their systems. What companies don't realise is that with the new technology comes a potential threat from a wide range of remote sources," said Sally Low, senior policy Aadviser at the British Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. "Building security into business systems and admitting you may be at risk at the outset is vital. Businesses should be more aware of the harm that could occur from inefficient security systems," Low added.
The BCC has arranged a meeting with the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, where it will discuss its concerns.
The IAAC believes that the UK government must do more to make the Internet a more secure place for business. The organisation will on Thursday launch an action plan titled "Protecting the Digital Society" later this week, and it is concerned that other governments are doing better at achieving high levels of e-security.
Boardroom blackout on IT security
According to the IAAC, many senior executives are failing to come to terms with managing the risks of e-business. "Company boards are not getting to grips with managing information risk, meaning that companies and the managing directors themselves are likely to face severe consequences," the IAAC warns, echoing similar concerns raised last month by a government-backed report, which warned that many firms are failing to spend enough on IT security. The IAAC is planning to survey boardrooms across the UK to find out how many are adopting the necessary precautions, so it can produce appropriate guidelines. Experts are concerned that many IT security breaches go unreported, often because firms are nervous of adverse publicity or because the crime simply goes undetected. In an attempt to provide relevant information and advice, the IAAC also plans to launch a "Cyber-hood watch" scheme that would try to prevent, detect and respond to online crimes and attacks.