Initiative to raise awareness of cyber threats. | Jaume Morey

0

In 2018, there were 3,000 reports of cybercrime in the Balearics. In 2020, there were 11,800. The increased reliance on the internet because of the pandemic, and not just for homeworking, attracted crime. The Balearics were not exceptional; it happened everywhere.

Almost 90% of these crimes were computer fraud, and small to medium-sized businesses were the chief targets. These businesses in fact often choose not to report cases, as they are concerned about the impact this might have among customers. However, cyberattacks can be so lethal that businesses are forced to close.

Juanjo Fuster is the director of Intec, a Mallorca cybersecurity company which is responsible for the management, containment and tracking of thousands of computer attacks per year. "There have been some cases of businesses having to close or cut staff."

He highlights a lack of awareness of the risks. "Companies don't invest in protection. There is much less awareness on the islands than on the mainland, and the difference between the mainland and countries like the UK or the US is abysmal."

The Balearics rank ninth among the regions in terms of the number of reports (the national total in 2020 was 287,963). Increasing awareness is now a priority for employers associations and public administrations.

With this in mind, an office for protection against cyberattacks was created in October last year. It is a joint project between the Balearic government, the University of the Balearic Islands and companies in the sector such as Intec. Various experts will be dedicated to raising awareness, advising and preparing companies, giving talks and training courses. The office will be fully up and running next month.

The Pimem federation of small to medium-sized business associations is involved with this project. Its president, Jordi Mora, agrees that there is a dire need to educate the business community. "It's a hidden business reality."

Fuster points out that, for the cybercriminal, "it's easier to steal a thousand euros from a thousand small businesses than a million euros from a large company". For this reason, as well as because they tend to have less protection, smaller businesses are more at risk.