Is my organisation at risk from Cybercrime?

By Paul Lopez, Essex Police & The Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre
In 1962, Allen Scherr launched the first recorded cyber-attack against a US university computer network, stealing passwords from their database using paper punch cards. Since then, things have got a lot darker and more complex.

Published in Essex Director Magazine Winter 2023

Cyber Security: Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre

A whole new cold war is underway with nation states continually battling each other in an attempt to undermine each other’s commercial and political regimes. And whilst a small business in Great Yarmouth, or a charity in Harlow, may not have been the intended target, a growing number of small and medium sized businesses across the region have fallen victim to cybercriminals in recent times, as an unintended consequence of state-led activity.

Case study

In 2021, a regional criminal law firm found itself a victim of an ongoing ransomware attack. They hadn’t reported it to the police (most don’t) as they weren’t sure how to respond and didn’t think it was that serious. However, when the true extent of the attack was finally discovered, they were cut off from their legal network – courts, CPS, and police – to prevent the spread of the malware onto other networks. Ultimately the business was unable to operate. They paid the ransom, got their data back and a local cyber firm helped to rebuild their network and beef up their security, costing them over £100k. This incident could have caused the firm to collapse, and it could all have been prevented if the company had set up a few basic policies around passwords and ensured that the staff were appropriately trained.

Current landscape

About half of the region’s small and medium sized businesses reported a cyber-attack last year. With less than 10% having cyber insurance, that meant a significant financial outlay to get back on track. In some cases the businesses failed completely, and even if they didn’t, there’s the future reputational damage to consider. Limited policing budgets and difficulties tracing offenders means that the criminals will probably not be brought to justice and any money lost is probably gone for good. All of this means that you really ought to do something now to prevent you from becoming a victim in the first place.

How can The Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre help?

The ever-growing threat from cyber criminals poses the biggest threat to the UK economy, both now and for the foreseeable future; in response The ECRC has been established to help. Free membership offers all organisations the opportunity to understand where their vulnerability lies, and what to do to protect themselves.

Our position within the market – with a foot in both the public and commercial sectors – means that we are uniquely placed to provide free and affordable cyber and counter fraud services to those businesses who can least afford it, but who actually need it the most.

Is my organisation at risk from Cybercrime? 1


Paul Lopez is a Detective Superintendent from Essex Police, and the Managing Director of the Eastern Cyber Resilience Centre, a police-led company, funded by the Home Office to support small and medium businesses become more cyber resilient. Join our growing community free of charge today at and we can help to start protecting your organisation and its data from attack.

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