Net Primates is an expert IT company that has been guarding businesses against the latest viruses, malware and cyber threats for nearly 20 years, keeping business-critical systems secure and fully functional.

In this Q&A, we quiz Steve Cole, Managing Director of Net Primates, to bring you up to date on the types of cybercrime that are attacking the business world right now, and how they can protect you from these serious and harmful threats.

In your opinion, what are currently the biggest cyber threats to businesses?

I would say the biggest threat to businesses at the moment is targeted attacks. An example of this would be a supply chain attack, where the company is dealing with a larger company or an organisation which is of interest to a cyber attacker. The cybercriminal researches the larger company’s supply chain, and infiltrates that supply chain by rerouting emails which enables them to change the bank account details where invoice payments are received. It’s subtle, sophisticated and hugely damaging, disrupting the company’s supply chain and potentially affecting them so severely that they can’t function.

Is cybercrime increasing?

Sadly, yes. It used to be that most cybercrime happened in the USA but we’re now hearing daily reports of cyber-attacks across the world, including many instances in the UK.

How serious could a cyber-attack be for a business?

I’m not being over-dramatic when I say that a cyber-attack can literally be a business ending event. Aside from the tangible harm caused by systems being disrupted and brought down, preventing a business from functioning, there’s the potential reputational damage. A reputation can take years to build but only seconds to destroy, and you could find yourselves in a scenario where your business is destroyed overnight.

How are cyber criminals targeting businesses?

Cyber criminals look for the weakest link, which is often the people within the business. This is why we can’t stress enough how important end user education is, making sure that your team is constantly vigilant and suspicious. Because of the financial element of crime, with money being the criminals’ driver, your accounts team is particularly vulnerable. The cyber criminals may tap into your accounting system and approach a member of your accounts team via email, requesting them to do something such as pay an invoice to a different supplier. That email may even come from, or pretend to come from, the Managing Director of that very business and look completely genuine. To make it look even more believable, the cyber criminals may even find out personal details via LinkedIn or Facebook to find out information they can refer to and make their email sound even more plausible, for example “I’m in Switzerland at a conference so I need you to send this email for me, requesting payment to this person and here are their bank details.”

Can you give an example of cybercrime via email?

We’ve seen a couple of scenarios in the past where somebody’s mailbox was compromised – not one of our clients’ email accounts but the people they were sending emails to. The hackers had compromised the receiver’s mailbox, got into their system and changed the bank details on invoices that were being sent to them. This meant that the person at the other end was unwittingly paying money to the wrong person.

What should I do if I receive a suspicious email?

Ultimately, email safety comes down to the person who’s receiving a message or file to notice that something’s out of the ordinary, to discuss it with colleagues and to flag it with an appropriate colleague or an IT security provider like Net Primates. Or, if they receive an email with new bank details and a supplier’s asking you to do something out of the ordinary, pick up the phone and talk to them about it.

Tip: a great way to check if an email is genuine is to click on the sender’s address – a fake email will often have an obscure address hiding behind what looks like a genuine company name.

How can you lower the threat of an email cyber-attack on your business?

Email protection software can be very effective in preventing your email accounts being hacked. As with everything, you can’t 100% guarantee it’s going to be fool proof and catch everything, however you can put systems in place that will flag something that looks out of the ordinary. One way to do this would be to have a banner pop up in front of the user in their email. Equally important is educating your employees and having procedures in place.

In what other ways might my business be attacked?


This can be a hugely alarming and stressful situation for a business. Typically, a file gets through to your network, either on an endpoint device or a server, via email, file transfer or USB for example. The file is then unwittingly executed by a user which then sees the device lock up, and a big display pop up on the screen telling you that your machine has been locked. You’re literally held to ransom, with a call to action requesting payment by Bitcoin or another method. Until you pay, you’re prevented from accessing any of your data at all. And, of course, you’re dealing with criminals who generally don’t have a moral code, so there’s no guarantee they’ll unlock your system even after you’ve paid their ransom.

Scams: phishing and pharming

The vast majority of cyber-attacks start with an email. Phishing uses identity theft scams to trick people into divulging sensitive information and pharming is when criminals redirect users to fake sites and email accounts to re-route money. These attacks can be very broad or very targeted. They include call to action requests that lead to your mailbox being compromised or your whole system being infiltrated.

CEO fraud (BEC – ‘business email compromised’)

Often highly targeted, this is when a cybercriminal will hack into a high level person’s email account in order to ask a colleague to carry out a financial task on their behalf which looks honest but is actually routing money to the criminals. They often cleverly weave personal information about the top level executive’s lifestyle or movements, to make it look reassuringly genuine to their colleague. 

Remote access attacks

This is where cyber criminals gain access to a business’s system via a remote desktop session. It’s not that common but it’s a huge threat when it does happen as it gives the criminals access to your entire system, enabling them to see all your data, install ransomware and so on. 


Computer viruses have been around for a long time. They typically arrive via an email or in a USB file and, once installed, prevent the machine from working and potentially corrupting files. This type of attack is best prevented by installing up to date antivirus software.

Why are processes critical in a company when it comes to cyber security?

Having robust processes in place is the best way to protect your business from cyber threats. We take a multi-layered approach when it comes to cyber security, looking at how we can minimise risk across your business. We scrutinise your email system, your endpoint (devices and servers) protection and make sure you have stringent and consistent staff training in place.


With 91% of attacks starting with an email to a business, focusing on your email system is our first priority. We make sure that you have suitable antivirus protection, both from inbound and outbound threats. We also check that you have the appropriate backup and archiving processes in place.


Our second priority to protect your business from cyber threats is to look at the endpoints, by which we mean all users’ laptops, desktop computers, servers, iPads, CCTV system, business phones – all electronic devices connected to your business in any way. We make sure that all these devices are suitably armed with antivirus and EDR (endpoint detection response) to protect them against ongoing threats to your business.

User education

Next, we focus on user training. This is an absolutely crucial element of your company’s cyber security. No matter what systems and layers you put in place, your business’s security is ultimately reliant on your employees being vigilant and making the right decisions. Clicking on one rogue link in an email or inserting a USB stick could bring your whole company down. It’s essential that your employees are fully trained on your cyber security protocol and know exactly when to act and what to do. It shouldn’t be a one-off tick box exercise either. Regular reminders are necessary.

What is antivirus software?

The traditional way of protecting your machine, this is software that is installed and run on an endpoint (i.e. a desktop or server or even a mobile phone). It acts as an electronic gatekeeper, scrutinising all files that are introduced into your devices by many different methods. It uses heuristics, which is a method employed by many computer antivirus programmes designed to detect previously unknown computer viruses, as well as new variants of viruses already ‘in the wild’, and information it already knows about threats to stop those threats before they enter your system and cause damage.

Why is it essential to have up-to-date antivirus software?

It’s absolutely essential to have the most current versions of antivirus software installed on your systems as this is the only way to ensure you are protected as best as you can be – there is a continual onslaught of more sophisticated cyber threats that can cause a huge negative impact to your machines, your data and to your business overall.

What is EDR (endpoint detection response)

EDR is the next generation of antivirus software. It stands for ‘endpoint detection response’. An ‘endpoint’ refers to any device that is capable of connecting to a network, and EDS is a security solution that continuously monitors end-user devices to detect and respond to cyber threats like ransomware and malware. This software uses AI and other intelligent systems to look at zero day threats around malware and ransomware, that can often be missed by traditional antivirus software.

How can Net Primates help?

We can visit your business and carry out a full appraisal of your current set up at no charge.

Then, we will make recommendations and provide solutions to minimise your risk, including taking remedial action where needed and installing the most appropriate antivirus software.

We can also help with staff training, providing suggested process guides.

We will do all that we can to ensure that your business is as robustly protected from cybercrime as possible.

Our expert and friendly team at Net Primates are here to help you navigate your way through cyber security. 

Email [email protected]

Fill out the contact form on our website Contact Us | Net Primates

Call 02381 800 800