Thousands at risk of cyber attacks, says North East IT expert

A North East IT expert is warning that thousands of businesses across the region are at major risk from cyber-criminals in the wake of a computer attack on a branch of Santander

Steve Nelson
Steve Nelson

A North East IT expert is warning that thousands of businesses across the region are at major risk from cyber-criminals in the wake of a computer attack on a branch of Santander.

Steve Nelson, founder and managing director of the Newcastle-based Calibre Secured Networks Limited, and an expert in so-called ‘ethical hacking’, is urging companies to review their systems and procedures to ensure they are properly protected.

His comments follow news of 12 men being arrested in London after trying to fit a device to computers in a Santander bank.

The device, if operational, would allow data and contents of the computer to be downloaded over the network.

Attacks on computers and IT communications systems are estimated to cost the UK economy billions of pounds a year in losses and damage to corporate reputation.

This is driving a need for more strategic investment in resources, security systems and processes.

Nelson, who has advised BT, Virgin Money and HBOS, among other multi-nationals, says North East banks, as well as all companies with IT networks, could be at similar risk and is urging every company to place greater importance on security, ensuring it is addressed in every aspect of their networks, as even IP Telephony is vulnerable to attack

“In my experience, thousands of businesses across the North East are potentially at risk from the criminals like the ones who targeted Santander,” Nelson said.

“This is costing them dearly in terms of financial loss and damage to reputation.

“Owners and managers need to be far more proactive about the issue, rather than simply reacting to an attack, which could come at anytime, day or night.”

Organised cyber crime, he added, had become an industry in itself, with attackers showing staggering sophistication.

“Companies like ours have responded, investing heavily in highly skilled and talented people who can deal with the growing threats,” he said.

“IT security attacks are one of the biggest threats organisations of all sizes face today – some organisations are receiving hundreds of attacks on their systems on a daily basis – and many North East firms are unaware that they are targets of cyber criminals.”

Calibre aims to use the latest know-how, advanced technology and software systems from the likes of Cisco to design and develop integrated and bespoke security solutions, protecting systems that operate and control email accounts, IT and internet equipment, Voice over IP and other services from cyber attacks.

This helps protect reputations, improve productivity, save money and provide peace of mind, said Nelson, who continues to work with a number of national companies based in the North East.

As well as being a Certified Ethical Hacker and Offensive Security Professional, Nelson is one of only a handful of Cisco Certified Internetwork Experts (CCIEs) to have a dual specialism in routing and switching, and security.

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer