Cyber attacks could lead to late payments and leaks of confidential data, MPs warn

Workers who rely on umbrella companies could face delayed payments and leaks of confidential data following cyber attacks, according to one of the biggest All-Party Parliamentary Groups.

The All-Party Parliamentary Loan Charge & Taxpayer Fairness Group (APPG) has written to the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association to express its concerns about potential data leaks which are causing anxiety among contractors who depend on FCSA firms.

The MPs are seeking assurances that no FCSA firm has made any payments to the cyber attackers to resolve the issues or stop the attacks.

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The letter, which has been signed by the APPG’s co-chairs, Sammy Wilson MP, Greg Smith MP and Mohammad Yasin MP, says: “We wish to express our further concern about the cyber attacks on FCSA firms and the impact this is having on workers who use them.

The letter, which has been signed by the APPG’s co-chairs, Sammy Wilson MP, Greg Smith MP and Mohammad Yasin MP, says: “We wish to express our further concern about the cyber attacks on FCSA firms and the impact this is having on workers who use them.

“Our understanding is that these have not only caused delays to payments but have also led to leaks of confidential data that is inevitably causing serious worry amongst the many contractors who rely on FCSA firms.”

The MPs said they welcomed a previous response from Chris Bryce, the CEO of the Freelancer and Contractor Services Association, which said FCSA are currently investigating what it can do to ensure members take steps to harden their system security.

A spokesperson for the FCSA said: “The FCSA’s codes of compliance demand adherence to employment and tax best practice, but we recognise that the prevalence of cyber-crime is increasing worldwide and across all industries.

"We will continue to liaise with stakeholders and our members to ensure the industry can best protect itself from future cyber-attacks, including supporting members and referring them to third-party expert advice.

“In addition, we have appointed independent cyber security experts to strengthen our own approach and the recommendations we can offer to our members, for example, in relation to business continuity and disaster recovery in the wake of a potential cyber incident. We will be announcing further details about the support these third-party experts will offer FCSA members shortly.

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"To mitigate risk, we continue to advise that members should undertake comprehensive and regular reviews of their system security and safeguarding of personal data. We suggest at the very least they enact measures recommended by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

“To improve the protections UK industries have in place against emerging cyber threats, we believe the public and private sectors need to work in alignment, and that further engagement and guidance from official cyber sources such as the NCSC and GCHQ would be welcomed by the business community.”

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