Grant Thornton and Barclays have co-hosted a major cyber seminar, at which a survey revealed that almost half of delegates would not know exactly what to do in the event of a cyber-attack.

Andrew Harbison, Director of Forensic and Investigation Services at Grant Thornton, Gillian Tong of Barclays’ UK Digital Security team and Detective Inspector Alistair Burns of the PSNI were the key speakers at the event at Barclays Eagle Lab, Ormeau Baths.

Attended by over 100 people, the seminar saw the speakers deliver advice to businesses from a wide range of sectors on how to safeguard against the growing threat of a cyber-attack.

A survey carried out at the seminar revealed that, while 65% of delegates said their business has a strategic plan in place, 46% said they would not know exactly what to do if their business suffered a cyber-attack.

Exactly half of businesses represented had suffered a cyber-attack of some kind, with 80% agreeing that there is a need to learn more about the threat and nature of cyber-crime.

Andrew Harbison, Director of Forensic and Investigation Services at Grant Thornton, commented:

“All firms, no matter their size, can fall victim to cyber criminals, and there are many examples of high-profile local businesses suffering major breaches.

“In the face of an ever-increasing threat, the challenge for all companies is to establish robust practices to ensure only the most necessary data is held on file, and that it is stored as securely as possible.

“Grant Thornton works with firms across many sectors of the economy, through our dedicated cyber security and forensic and investigation teams, to advise on best practice in the ongoing fight against cybercrime.

“The seminar revealed a few interesting statistics about awareness of cyber security amongst local businesses, and we hope the insights shared will encourage people to ensure they are fully aware of what they should do if their business suffers a cyber-attack.”

Joanna McArdle, Relationship Director, Barclays Northern Ireland, said:

“Cyber-criminals are employing ever-more sophisticated ways of attacking businesses. They are also quick to find new ways to work around the banks’ responses, so we all have to get smarter and be more prepared.

“With inadequate preparation and precautions, companies are unwittingly leaving themselves open to an ever-increasing threat.”

Detective Inspector Alistair Burns of the PSNI commented:

“Recent figures indicate just under 50% of UK businesses experienced a cyber incident in 2016.

“Working alongside national and international partners, the PSNI Cyber Crime Centre, with the support of local businesses, can make a positive contribution towards reducing the risks posed by cybercrime to the local economy.”