The police’s North East Special Operations Unit (NERSOU) and the North East Fraud Forum hosted the region's first cyber crime conference at Durham County Cricket Club.
Attended by 200 delegates from small and medium enterprises and public sector bodies; the conference, labelled "What Price Reputation?" was aimed towards giving businesses the information to be able to protect themselves from cyber-attacks. As trade is increasingly conducted via the internet, hackers and fraudsters are targeting vulnerable firms.
Among the speakers was Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, the police national lead on cybercrime, Durham's Chief Constable Mike Barton who opened proceedings and guests from the cyber security industry.
Det Supt Tim Walker, of NERSOU, said smaller enterprises could suffer more than their bigger brothers from cybercrime,
“A lot of the criminality is completely unseen. Someone may never know they have compromised, “ he said.
“You have people doing it for sport, for want of a better word, and there is certainly an amount of criminal gain and industrial espionage".
“We are much better at identifying financial crime now but we are also aware that a significant amount of fraud will be reported directly to banks and will never come the police’s way"
“It is a growing part of the workload of policing UK. The theft of client data could seriously damage a company’s reputation and the shutting down of a website could actually finish off their business"
“To try and recover from that is a lot harder for a smaller company.”
Det Supt Walker said firms needed to ensure they were protected against attacks and that advice was readily available.