Survey reveals extent of cyber-crime affecting construction businesses

New Government statistics have revealed that there were 77,000 incidents of online crime against construction premises last year, although only three per cent of cases were reported to the police.

The new figures, contained in the Home Office’s latest commercial victimisation survey show that online crimes affected 15 per cent of construction business premises last year.

Despite the fact there is a degree of overlap between different methods of online crime, 71 per cent of cases related to computer viruses, while 10 per cent involved hacking attacks. The survey also revealed that an estimated 2,000 businesses suffered a theft of money online.

Only three per cent of incidents of online crime were reported to the police, potentially reflecting a perception that the authorities are unable to help.

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 advisers 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.