quote
menu

How to keep your small business cyber-safe: What to watch out for


Cyber attacks have increased tenfold in the past three years according to the experts, and one in three small businesses still don’t have a plan of action if they were attacked. KPMG research showed that cyber security is now the third priority in most boardrooms, showing how seriously many companies are taking it.

We weren’t short of high-profile companies getting hacked and making the headlines in 2014. Before Christmas Sony Pictures was forced to withdraw the mainstream release of its film The Interview over a cyber-attack, and cinemas were effectively blackmailed into cancelling screenings. Retailer eBay also faced a backlash in May last year when it was accused of failing to alert customers to change their passwords quickly enough after a breach of security.

It’s not just big companies either.

Director of Data Mills, Andrew Mills, says many of his clients have experienced a cyber-attack, and that mistakes are easy to make.

“The Sheffield and District Law Society got an email from an unknown address, and thinking it was something set up by the previous member of staff, opened an attachment and downloaded a cryptolocker virus,” he says. “It brought in a cocktail of malicious viruses.”

Another client lost six years’ worth of data with a similar attack which held his files to ransom, despite a solid anti-virus protector and cyber-security plan.

Hacks can be extremely costly to any business, and they can hit a small business particularly hard. The 2013 Information Security Survey estimated that cyber-attacks can cost a small business up to 6% of their turnover, when the cost of protection is far less.

The cloud and mobile devices

“I would say probably [cyber attacks have increased] tenfold over the past few years,” says Neal Holley, director of Gatewest Media. “It may have gone from about one a week to around five a day.”

Neal and his team have developed a secure app called KnowGate, which allows the user to search through enterprise data on their own devices. “It’s giving small businesses the tools the big boys have had for years,” he says.

Many companies are focusing on a ‘bring your own device’ policy for employees using their phone or tablet to access company data on services such as Google Docs or Dropbox.

These technologies can compromise confidential data if not managed correctly, and small businesses should consider official advice and develop best-practice regulations to minimise risks.

Passwords

“Ensuring that passwords are a mixture of upper case, lower case, numbers and special characters and different for each program, is vital,” says Hazel Theocharous, a trainer for small businesses. “You would be amazed at how many owners have the same password for everything.”

Staff training

You would not expect staff training to prioritise cyber-security, but it is regularly forgotten entirely.

“Awareness is one of the most cost-effective tools,” says Neal. “That head-in-the-sand approach is one of the big risks of that.”

Training staff in exactly what a cyber-security risk is, and how it can affect them personally, through the government’s 10-step Cyber Essentials Programme is a good place to start.

Government help

The government recognises that cyber security is vital for businesses, and there are a number of schemes you can get involved in, including a cyber-security certificate to show you’re safe to your suppliers, and an Innovation Vouchers programme to get up to £5,000 funding for new security.

“It’s a good awareness programme from my perspective,” says Neal. “It’s easy to assume that everybody’s up to speed, that they’re not going to get caught, they’re just lucky and it won’t affect them.”

Don’t leave it until it’s too late – you could be next.

Related Articles

The UK Retail Landscape

The UK retail landscape is in constant flux. The high street evolves to accommodate changing trends, and as a ...

Read More

UK Energy’s Getting Greener

There are a growing number of energy suppliers that offer 100% renewable energy tariffs to domestic and busine...

Read More

The Rise of UK Veganism

2020 feels like the year of the vegan. Over the last few years veganism has been creeping steadily into the ma...

Read More
Excellent, / 10

Kay was extremely helpful and…

"Kay was extremely helpful and efficient, in terms of both advice and setting up our account. Would recommend 100%."

This review was posted by customer on the 24th of November 2020

After Scottish Power changed our…

"After Scottish Power changed our business rates half way through the contract we were in set up by Switch My Business, we spoke to Natalja and she helped us sort this issue. Unfortunately, Scottish Power wouldn't play ball and were not agreeing to let us out the contract. Natalja worked extremely hard to sort this out for us and even put a claim in with them for the out of contract rates they put us on as one advisor at Scottish Power said they would refund the difference then another said they would not, along with plenty of other issues and broken promises along the way. It was a long and pretty painful process but Natalja did not give up and we have won the claim against Scottish Power. Very happy with the service Natalja provided."

This review was posted by Sara on the 19th of November 2020

Prompt & efficient service from Stephen…

"Prompt & efficient service from Stephen who really went into all the details in a very short period of time. I would definitely use SMB again. Thank you Stephen!"

This review was posted by Jackie on the 18th of November 2020

Highly recommended!

"Dealt with Bhavni, she was also extremely helpful, patient and dealt with my case in a very professional way. Answered all my questions promptly and got the best rate for our business. Highly recommended!"

This review was posted by S. Amin on the 17th of November 2020

Pleased with switch my business

"Pleased with switch my business, Arron was very helpful, found the best tariff and always responded quickly to emails."

This review was posted by Eve Gallagher on the 16th of November 2020