We must treat cyber crimes like traditional crimes, says Norfolk security expert

Former police officer and counter terrorism specialist Ross McDermott was appointed as the new head

Former police officer and counter terrorism specialist Ross McDermott was appointed as the new head of aviation and specialist services at Dardan Security in January. Picture: Peter Treglown/FOUR - Credit: FOUR

A Norwich security expert said organisations need to use up-to-date software to avoid the evolving threat of cyber attacks.

Following the NHS cyber attack, Ross McDermott, a former Norfolk detective chief inspector who now works for Norwich-based Dardan Security, warned that older software are more susceptible to scams as they are not regularly updated.

He said the NHS is still using Windows XP, a 16-year-old operating system which has stopped receiving security updates and support from Microsoft since 2014.

MORE: Systems still down at Norfolk hospital after cyber attack - but appointments going ahead on Monday

Mr McDermott said: 'Public bodies, private companies and even individuals need to be more careful with storing data. Private information is the most valuable commodity we possess and that is the area we need to be particularly prudent with.

'Large public bodies use the older operating systems like XP which have inherent weaknesses.'

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As online crime is becoming more sophisticated and prevalent, Mr McDermott said criminals are keeping pace with technology making it harder for people to spot malware.

On ransomware attacks, he said the functionality of systems are systematically closed off and even if the ransom is paid there is no guarantee the data will come back.

MORE: NHS cyber attack: What is ransomware and how can it be removed?

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He added: 'There is an attempt to catch up with hackers in terms of technology which means we'll always be that step behind.

'With phishing emails, I've heard the experiences of companies where a secretary received an email which looks genuine but there is just one character different on the email address. It's easy to manipulate someone to do something they shouldn't.'

He said policies which focus on simple human elements - such as passwords, access, memory sticks - within organisations could prevent cyber attacks, but with cutting costs policies get watered down and supervision becomes less robust.

'People don't treat cyber attacks like traditional crimes, for example burglary, when it kind of is the same thing. You lock windows and doors but there is always a way to break into a house.

'In most cases people are having there metaphorical windows open. There needs to be policies in place to close those access points but because the NHS is so vast it is more difficult to apply.'

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