By Steven Richards, Partner, Dispute Resolution

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" according to Benjamin Franklin.

Wise words indeed which resonate as much today as they did over 200 years ago. 

Consider for example the ever-growing spectre of cyber-fraud which can affect both individuals and organisations alike – often which highly damaging consequences. Bank transfer scams alone are proliferating at an alarming rate and trade figures indicate that nearly £250 million was lost to this type of activity in 2017. 

Worrying stuff, particularly for busy organisations where high transactional rates increase the likelihood of human error which in turn open the door to the fraudster outside.

It will be welcome news therefore in the business sector that the Payment Systems Regulator is due by the end of September to publish a new set of rules under which the banks that handle the fraudulent proceeds will be under greater responsibility to make good the victim's losses. 

The rules (which are likely to come into force in early 2019) will provide some needed relief to those that have been the victim of this type of activity but, even so, a recovery is never guaranteed and the loss of cash – even if only on an interim basis – can present serious, and sometimes catastrophic, problems for smaller and mid-sized enterprises in particular. 

Taking steps therefore to prevent or at least mitigate against the risk of fraud needs to remain at the heart of any strategic plan to deal with asset preservation and last week the National Cyber Security Centre (a part of GCHQ) published its latest guidance aimed at generating the right discussions between board members and their IT and security teams with a view to minimising the threat of cybercrime.

As the NCSC puts it, the role of these teams in improving knowledge of cyber-security issues should not be underestimated and in our view all businesses – including those with sophisticated measures already in place - could do far worse than following this latest guidance. 

For his part, Mr Franklin would have definitely approved.