Whilst it’s almost essential these days, using technology puts businesses at risk of cyber crime. As businesses have gone online, crime has too, and almost half of all crime in the UK takes place online. Not having huge technology departments to call on, SMEs are statistically the least resilient to this threat. Since a quarter of small businesses have endured a recent cyber-attack, there’s a high probability that yours will be targeted at some point as well. The latest research from the Home Office suggests that SMEs can pay between £65,000 and £115,000 to recover from a major security breach.
Numbers of cyber attacks peaked during the pandemic, as opportunistic criminals took advantage of the disturbance to normal business practices. Supply chain disruption, demand decline and insolvencies all weakened businesses’ defences. Impersonation fraud is one of the most common ways that criminals have found to exploit businesses. It involves the fraudulent party posing as a reputable customer in order to steal goods, services or data, or to otherwise compromise a business.
Assets such as your firm's money, information, contacts and reputation could all be subject to cyber attack. Nor is it only external hackers that could pose a threat to your business' security. Businesses also need to protect against security breaches from competitors and employees. Thankfully, there are new services entering the market to help protect SMEs against cyber crime, and a number of actions that savvy businesses can take to stay secure. Here’s what you can do to protect your business:
Train your team
Brief your team on the full spectrum of cyber threats, and on which protocols your organisation will be using to mitigate this risk to the business. The Government has a free online course on cyber security that’s specially designed for small and medium-sized enterprises.
8 in 10 businesses believe that cyber security is a top priority for business leaders, according to a 2020 survey by the Home Office. The stats on cyber crime show that cyber security attack is an inevitability, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Since your leaders set the standard for your organisation, their awareness and buy-in are essential in combatting criminals. You can find additional information on protecting your business against cyber security breaches here.
This might seem obvious, but build the foundations for cyber security by getting the basics right. Take stock of all the devices in your business, and ensure they are sufficiently protected with strong passwords. Review the security of your network, install antivirus software on your devices, and make sure you download software updates as they become available. Make sure your data is backed up at an offsite location.
Embed a framework
Using a cyber security framework can help you to embed consistent standards and protocols across your business, whether you employ five people or five hundred. The Government's framework, 'Cyber Essentials' offers free, downloadable resources to help small businesses protect themselves, including a quick self assessment to help you determine your business’ current level of security.
A serious security breach could put your business out of action for up to ten days. Protect against this by proactively testing and improving your security systems, and building capability to respond efficiently to security breaches. You can learn more about the latest trends in cyber crime, and report cyber attacks or fraud on the Action Fraud website.