Brexit: Greater risk of cyber-crime after leaving EU

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Cyber attacks against food and drink manufacturers could rise after Brexit
Cyber attacks against food and drink manufacturers could rise after Brexit

Related tags: United kingdom

Cyber-crime will pose a bigger threat to food and drink manufacturers once the UK leaves the EU warn lawyers, after a US food chain suffered a devastating online attack last week.

Manufacturing businesses – including food and drinks firms – would lose the protection from cyber-crime gained from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations, said Kurt Rowe, part of the insurance team at Weightmans.  

“At the moment, food manufacturers are at no greater risk of cyber-crime following the decision of the UK electorate to leave the EU,” ​said Rowe.

As it stands, businesses remain protected by EU legislation and manufacturers can continue to pass information within the current framework to other EU countries.

“However, once the UK government has formally signalled our intention to leave by invoking Article 50, manufacturers should be alert to any changes in legislation proposed as part of the UK’s exit strategy. 

‘Vulnerable to cyber-attacks’

“There is always the possibility that businesses could become more vulnerable to cyber-attacks as hackers seek to take full advantage of the confusion. It is vital businesses are alive to this threat in the long-term.”

What is malware?

Malware (malicious software) infects electronic devices such as computers and phones. It is software that is specifically designed to gain access or damage a computer without the knowledge of the owner.

About 10M Android smartphones have been infected by malware that generates fake clicks for adverts, according to security researchers Checkpoint and Lookout.

Rob Cotton, ceo of cyber security consultancy NCC, said: “If the UK wants to trade with the EU on equal terms, UK data protection standards will have to be equivalent to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations.

“For the UK to do business with the EU, or any other country for that matter, it is vital that data protection standards and legislation is of the highest order.”

The warning came as the National Crime Unit released its 2016 cyber-crime assessment​, which called for a stronger collaboration between businesses and law enforcement to tackle online attacks.

‘Cyber-crime threat’

A collaborative approach, based on an enhanced partnership between business and law enforcement, is necessary to build a better understanding of the cyber-crime threat, facilitate the investigation of cyber-crime and disrupt criminal networks.”

The news follows an online attack on US fast food chain Wendy’s, where more than 1,000 stores were infected with malware that stole customers’ credit and debit card details.

Wendy’s did not say how many customers were affected, but it did say that all the locations targeted were in the US.

On January 3 this year, insurance firm Allianz reported that the risk of cyber incidents, including cyber-crime and data breaches, had risen to the top of its risk Barometer in the UK.

What is cyber-crime?

When computer is the target of crime – such as hacking, phishing or spamming – or is used as a tool to commit an offence.

Related topics: Legal, IT

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