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TP Talks – What challenges are our Trusted Partners seeing?

Every quarter the ECRC meets with their fabulous Trusted Partners (TP) to discuss what cyber threats they are seeing. This quarter everyone agreed that the economic downturn is likely to be the biggest upcoming challenge.


When times get tight, businesses prioritise their spending based on their essential activities, and for a lot of companies this will not be their cyber resilience.

They will weigh their perceived threat of cyber-attack against their bottom line and in some cases decide that cutting back is worth the risk.

But is the perceived threat of attack fully known by business decision makers?

If everyone in your supply chain also reduces their cyber resilience spending, what does this do to your risk?

Supply chains are frequently targeted by cyber criminals; Business Email Compromise (where a criminal takes over a legitimate email account and intercepts payments) are becoming increasingly common and are cost businesses thousands of pounds. If businesses cut down on their cyber resilience spending, this might well be in the area which is the hardest to secure - your staff awareness training.

There are multiple reasons why phishing emails continue to be the most common cyber-attack; the criminals need minimum technical knowledge and, ultimately, they work. That's why staff need regular training - it keeps the threat top-of-the-mind and they can remain updated and alert to the latest techniques. So cutting this back, should be avoided.

New phish to warn your staff about

One of our TPs shared a phishing technique that they witness on a fairly regular basis.

· A company employs a new member of staff

· The staff member changes their company on LinkedIn

· The staff member then gets an email purportedly from the new company’s boss asking for their telephone number to be added to a What’sApp group

Why does someone else want that staff member’s telephone number?

Luckily, none of the employees have fallen for this but it is important to remember that a new staff member is likely to have less knowledge of the key members of a company or the company's policies and procedures.

If the employee sends them the contact details, then the group they get added to is likely to be saved as a trusted source of information. This might mean the employee would be more likely to click on links coming from that source.

They might also try and set up MFA using the details that have been provided. For example:-

  • Criminal managed to 'phish' the credentials of the new employee by sending a link through the WhatsApp group

  • They can’t get past the MFA

  • They send the employee a text which looks as if it comes from a legitimate MFA request asking for the code

  • Employee sends the code to the criminal

So what can companies do when budgets are squeezed?

There are a number of free things all companies can continue to do as they weather the economic storm.

  • Understand the risk - have detailed knowledge of systems and processes in place and identify the company’s crown jewels (the things without which the company could not function). You can then be pragmatic about where budgets really shouldn’t be reduced. How long could you manage without any emails or core systems? Which systems would you recover? Cost = time to review.

  • Sign up to NCSC Early Warning – receive high level alerts, in daily and weekly summaries, based on your IP and domain names, containing:

    • Incident notifications suggesting an active compromise of your system. This might be a host on your network being infected with malware.

    • Network Abuse Events suggesting your assets have been associated with malicious or undesirable activity. This might be a client on your network found scanning the internet.

    • Vulnerability and Open Port Alerts suggesting vulnerable services running on your network, or undesired applications are exposed to the internet. This might be an exposed Elasticsearch service. Cost = free

  • Get Police CyberAlarm - help your business understand and monitor malicious cyber activity. Police CyberAlarm acts like a 'CCTV camera' monitoring the traffic on a member's connection to the internet. It detects and provides regular reports of suspected malicious activity, enabling organisations to minimise their vulnerabilities. Vulnerability Scanning can be added and used to scan an organisation's website and external IP addresses. Cost = free

  • Register your domain with – this will alert you if your domain appears in a known data breach allowing you to take action, hopefully before the criminals can. Cost = free.

  • Join the Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre community – sign up and receive a monthly newsletter about cyber threats, as well as our 'Little Steps' emails which provide easy to understand guidance about fundamental cyber resilience. You can also access our affordable student services and our Forum where you can meet others who might have the same questions. We can also give you signposting to other free tools which might be relevant to your company. Cost = free


The contents of this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us.

The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this document. The Cyber Resilience Centre for the East is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

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