Expert issues cyber crime warning to industry

Cyber crime is one of the “biggest potential threats” to travel companies, according to an expert.

Alan Pattison, who runs the travel risk professionals division of insurance broker Tasker & Partners, said the company was witnessing an increasing number of cyber crime cases among clients, which include a range of travel agents, tour operators and cruise lines.

Speaking at a seminar, organised for the industry by Prevention of Fraud in Travel (PROFiT), he said: “Cyber crime is one of the biggest potential threats to organisations because they may not be aware of the ability to insure against it.

“They may not take it seriously because it’s not happened to them.

“This year I have seen more cyber attacks than I have seen actual thefts. It is becoming so widespread. Cyber attacks are catching companies by surprise: is your IT specialist experienced in dealing with the cyber threat?”

Pattison warned of the dangers of hackers taking valuable customer data or money, and said cyber crime attacks were often carefully planned.

“These guys can sit in your [computer] system for months watching what is going on and mimic behaviour. They can get all your sensitive data and sell it on. The cost of repairing these sorts of attacks can be enormous,” he said. “We have had clients asked for £10,000 in cyber ransom attacks and it can be hard to trace the money.”

He urged travel companies to have plans in place on what to do in the event of a cyber attack, ensure staff were aware of the dangers, install anti-virus software and update passwords for staff working remotely.

In the past, companies have been reluctant to take out insurance against cyber crime but Pattison said policy costs were now coming down, allowing more companies to insure against it.

Tasker & Partners provides firms with access to a team of IT specialists to analyse and react to the crime, as well as help to protect the reputation of their brand, he said.

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