January 21, 2019updated 22 Jan 2019 9:56am

Brexit will make the UK a target for cybercriminals – but could it be an opportunity for improvement?

By Luke Christou

The United Kingdom will crash out of the European Union in March, and law enforcement won’t be spared from the disruption that is expected to follow.

Particularly if Brexit is a hard one, collaboration between the UK and its European counterparts to tackle issues such as cybersecurity will become increasingly difficult, with the break up potentially impacting the joint information systems that EU members currently share, leaving the UK exposed to potential cyber threats.

“The internet does not stop at the white cliffs of Dover,” said Laurie Mercer, security engineer at cybersecurity company HackerOne.

While progress has been made on defending against cybercriminals, with businesses now more willing to invest in skilled cybersecurity professionals, Brexit is expected to bring new challenges for businesses that they will be focused on overcoming as quickly as possible.

“With Brexit, many companies across all sectors, especially large ones, will be focused on managing the massive disruption to their systems and supply chains that will result,” said Emmanuel Schalit, CEO of password manager app Dashlane. “This disruption offers hackers of all levels – whether organised crime or nation-state – a prime opportunity to target not only the UK government, but those that come under its protection: businesses and citizens.”

“With all the complexities and uncertainties that Brexit will bring, the authorities and businesses will be too busy solving transitional and logistical challenges, to the point that the cyber threat landscape will down fall the agenda.

“With hands otherwise occupied elsewhere, cybercriminals could take advantage of a few more open doors.”

Brexit: An opportunity for change?

However, Schalit believes this could present an opportunity for improvement of data protection practices by encouraging consumers to stop replying on businesses to take care of their data.

“This turbulent period will provide UK consumers with more of an incentive to take control of their own digital identities, instead of relying on distracted businesses to secure their personal data.”

Schalit believes that making use of password management technology, which creates and stores unique, complex passwords for each online account that the user possesses, is a good place to start. Given the record-breaking collection of 773m email and password combinations discovered by data breach database Have I Been Pwned?, avoiding password reuse is good practice and will help to avoid having all of your accounts compromised in the event of a breach.

“This is just the start of what consumers can do, but in the uncertain world we find ourselves in, a start is better than waiting for the inevitable to happen.”

Read more: UK risk managers more worried about cybersecurity than Brexit

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