The figures from the Home Office’s latest commercial victimisation survey show that online crimes affected 15% of construction business premises last year. It was the first year that the sector has been covered by the survey and so no comparisons are available with previous figures.
The survey found that 71% of cases related to computer viruses and 10% involved hacking attacks, although there is a degree of overlap between different types of online crime. The survey estimated that 2,000 businesses suffered a theft of money online.
The survey also showed that smaller construction premises were experiencing similar rates of crime as larger premises, although unsurprisingly larger companies were spending significantly more on IT security.
Steve Snaith, head of technology risk assurance at business adviser RSM said: “It’s very clear from this report that incidences of online crime against construction premises are going largely unreported.
‘In the past, cyber-crime may have seemed like a remote existential threat, but it is increasingly common and construction firms need to take it seriously. As a minimum, every company, regardless of size, should have anti-virus or anti-spam software together with robust security update procedures. Other areas of importance include, in particular, the need for an internal staff education process regarding cyber risk awareness. Additional measures such as data security policies, restrictions on email or internet use by staff or encryption software can also provide helpful protection.”
The 2016 commercial victimisation survey was carried out among 958 respondents from the construction sector including building, roofing, scaffolding, civil engineering, electrics and plumbing companies.