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Bedfordshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner – Kathryn Holloway launched an event for 160 county businesses to protect them from online criminals.

Organised by Bedfordshire Police, the Cyber Threat Awareness Event was held today (2 February), and aimed at local businesses large and small to provide them with an understanding of cyber threats. For example, the audience was told that UK businesses have lost over £3.2million through impersonation fraud – when a supposed chief executive or managing director instructs invoices to be paid as a matter of urgency via email.

Delivering the opening statement  Commissioner Holloway said: “After 17 years working with some of the UK’s largest companies and their crisis management staff before coming into this role as PCC, I fully understand how vigilant businesses of any size, have to be to keep increasingly sophisticated criminals at bay, who want to attack them online.

“We heard today that impersonation fraud is a massive issue where finance departments are sent what looks like a genuine email instructing them to pay an invoice immediately from the head of the company.  Almost unbelievably, in my first week as PCC, criminals wrote to instruct our Chief Financial Officer to pay just such an invoice, supposedly on my instruction.  Fortunately, at Bedfordshire Police we are a bit more switched on than that!”

Cybercrime is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world and can affect both individuals and businesses. In response to growing demand, in 2016, Bedfordshire Police launched its Cyber Hub; a dedicated unit analysing digital data in cybercrime investigations.

The Cyber Hub investigates a variety of cyber related crimes including cyber bullying, cyber stalking, online fraud, online theft and hacking. Crimes such as child grooming and sex offences are also increasingly taking place online.

Cyber Security Advisor at Bedfordshire Police - Sean O’Neil commented:

“Cybercrime is a growing issue, and it’s vital that we are able to spend time educating people across the county about it and about how to stay safe online.”

Two thirds of UK businesses have been targeted in the past year with an estimated 3.6 million cases of cyber fraud and two million computer misuse offences taking place.