A HUGE growth in the number of cyber security firms since the first Covid lockdown has provided an opportunity for criminals, an expert has warned.

The number of cyber security businesses has grown 21 per cent since the virus reached the UK.

Matt Horan, security director at Poole-based C3IA Solutions, says some criminals are posing as security experts to gain access to businesses’ systems.

Mr Horan, whose business was among the first six to be certified by the National Cyber Security Centre, said: “It is good news that more businesses are identifying cyber security as something they need to improve. We’ve been banging that drum for some years, but it is having so many people working from home that has led employers doing something to protect their information.

“The number of companies taking up basic certifications such as Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus highlights the increased concern. And it is this growth in demand for cyber security that has encouraged criminals to pose as security professionals.

“They will call and pretend to be cyber security experts who can help you – and some even have convincing websites. Anyone can just set themselves up as a cyber expert.

“Convincing someone you are a cyber expert is a swift way to gain access to a company’s information.

“I have taken calls myself from people pretending that they had identified a problem with my computer and if I followed their instructions they’d help me,” he added.

“It’s really important people do due diligence on any company or individual they instruct. Don’t follow instructions of a cold caller and don’t just click on a first Google result.”

Around 50,000 people are employed in the cyber security sector, which contributed £4billion to the economy last year.