UK businesses on high alert of cybercrime threat

Companies warned to be on their guard against web theft

Businesses in the UK are more aware of the menace of cybercrime, compared to organisations in other parts of the world, according to multinational professional services firm EY, which released its 13th Global Fraud Survey on Thursday.

This latest survey from EY examined in-depth interviews with over 2,700 executives across 59 countries, with 50 respondents from the UK. The executives included chief financial officers, chief compliance officers, general counsel and heads of internal audit.

The EY study found that 74% of UK respondents said cybercrime area posed a high risk to their organisation, while globally 49% of businesses were concerned about cyber threat.

British firms are also more concerned about fraud being carried out from within their organisations, with 36% saying that there is a cybercrime threat from employees, compared to 26% being more worried about organised cybercrime.

Head of Forensic Technology and Discovery Services at EY, Paul Walker, commented: “The results may not necessarily indicate mistrust between employers and employees when it comes to cybercrime issues. The issue is whether employees take cybercrime as seriously as management do.”

Walker added: “Employees are sometimes seen as the weak link with individuals susceptive to phishing emails – where spoof emails are sent out in an attempt to gain passwords or confidential information, downloading viruses and transferring files to unauthorised personal devices.”

The UK was found to have performed better than average on serious fraud and corruption globally, however 14% of UK firms reported a significant fraud in the last two years, while 18% of executives feel that bribery and corruption is widespread.

John Smart, head of EY’s UK Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services (FIDS) practice, said: “The rest of the world is playing catch up with the UK in recognising cybercrime as a serious threat. High-profile cybercrime incidents and a number of government initiatives may have played an important role in ensuring high awareness of this issue amongst business leaders here in the UK.”

EY’s Global Fraud Survey also indicates that British companies are dealing with fraud and corruption significantly better than the rest of the world. The study revealed that 94% of respondents agree that senior managers in the UK have strongly communicated a commitment to anti-bribery policies, approximately 10% more than the global average.

UK businesses are well prepared, with 88% of respondents having attended some form of training on bribery and corruption, according to the survey. In addition, the UK ranks third in the world on whistleblowing procedures, as 82% of respondents stated that their organisation provided a whistleblowing hotline.

In spite of the recent UK Bribery Act, 46% of British respondents to the survey said it is acceptable to offer entertainment to retain business compared to 29% internationally. Commenting on this, Smart said: “Overall, the UK continues to demonstrate a strong commitment to integrity and anti-bribery/anti-corruption compliance and this is supported by legislation such as the Bribery Act. UK companies take their responsibilities seriously in this area and the results show a significant level of self-enforcement.”

Smart concluded: “However, the fact that 46% of UK businesses said it was okay to offer entertainment to retain business shows there is still confusion regarding what is and is not acceptable. If gifts or entertainment are being offered as a quid pro quo or with a direct link to retaining business they are probably bribes. With the summer events season approaching it is more important than ever for companies to be extra vigilant around entertainment and satisfy themselves that what they offer is appropriate and reasonable.”

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