On Tuesday, 25th of February, Unitec IT Solutions supported the Fraud & Cyber Crime Prevention seminar hosted by the Gardaí, in association with the Tipperary Chamber of Commerce. The event was held in the Clonmel Park Hotel and was attended by a huge crowd, which included members of the general public along with many local business owners. Detective Inspector Mel Smyth, from the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, was the main speaker, with contributions and Q&A from Sergeant Willie Leahy, Clonmel Gardaí.

The goal of the seminar was to educate the community on our vulnerabilities to cybercrime and how we can protect ourselves from becoming victims of this 21st-century violation of our privacy and security.

Topics covered included the need for anti-virus software and how important it is to keep all software and systems up to date. For businesses, the need for a solid business continuity plan was discussed – a critical component of any organisation in recovering should the worst happen. The necessity for staff education in reducing your business’s vunerability to phishing attacks was also covered.

Det. Insp. Smyth outlined several Irish cases where businesses have fallen victim to cybercrimes such as invoicing scams. They informed us that two arrests were recently made in Tipperary in relation to such a scam, highlighting the fact that these crimes are prevalent even in our own localities.

One very dramatic example that was shared on the day, although not occurring in Ireland, related to a company losing over $4 million in the course of a single transaction. In monitoring email communications of this company, criminals identified a valid $4 million payment that was to be processed to a supplier. The criminals simply contacted the company under a spoofed email account (an account made to look so similar to what staff are used to seeing from that same supplier so as to avoid raising suspicions) and let them know that the bank account details had changed. Once the transaction had been processed, the money was quickly whisked off to Hong Kong and became very difficult to trace.

One small action from the staff member processing the change to bank account details could have prevented this huge loss – simply picking up the phone and speaking with the supplier to confirm the change in bank details would have quickly uncovered that something was not right. It demonstrated, once again, the importance of staff education and training in how cybercrimes are carried out, common vulnerabilities to be aware of and measures that can be put into place to avoid being caught out.

Cyber Fraud can have severe financial implications, and in the aftermath of such an event, a company’s reputation can suffer.

The clear message on the day was that businesses need to put best-practice measures in place, to protect their systems and their data.

Unitec was on hand to answer any additional questions attendees had, or address their specific concerns. We’re grateful to the Gardaí for their efforts in highlighting these issues, and urge any businesses who would like to avail of our expertise in the areas of staff education, security, back-ups and data continuity to get in touch today.

Check out some images from the day, below.