Cyber Security - Are Small Businesses Safe?

By Holly Snowdon 

It appears that nobody is safe when it comes to attacks over the internet.

Modern day cyber criminals are malicious. They have a motive.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in cyber security attacks across the globe. Whether you’re a small or large business they are both seemingly vulnerable to an attack of any size.

However, according to experts, it is small businesses which are predominantly in the firing line and unfortunately, they are often inadequately prepared.

According to data collected by Symantec, published in the 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, small businesses have become a big target for phishers (individuals attempting to illegally access account information online). In fact, this data showed that a mammoth 43% of cyber attacks were targeted at small businesses and according to a report published by Barclays, an alarming 74% of small businesses in the UK suffered a security breach in the last year.

These shocking statistics are likely to come as a surprise to many because according to Professor John Walker, a lecturer in cyber security at Nottingham Trent University, businesses owners are often reluctant to report these cases to both the police and the media, due to their concern for potential loss of reputation and credibility.

As a result of the increasing frequency of these highly disruptive cyber attacks, along with much greater sophistication of hackers/phishers in penetrating firewalls, the pressure for all businesses to combat cyber crime is at an all-time high.

So why is this happening and what can businesses do to minimise the chances of being a victim to one of these successful attacks?

The focus for cyber crime has shifted away from larger corporations to small companies, as they are generally easier to target and as cyber security is generally limited and breaches in security are much harder to spot.

Hackers are attracted to data, not necessarily the size of the company - especially credit card data, valuable intellectual property data and customer/client contact info, which is seemingly easier to access in small firms.

Luckily, there are a number of simple actions small firms can take in order to prevent cyber attacks. For example, it is vital for them to have up to date anti-virus software installed and for this software to be set up to regularly scan for potential threats.

Here are a few more top tips on how to prevent an attack:

Basic Guidance on how to prevent an attack

- Employee Education and training

- Malware Protection - Always have the most up-to-date version of protection software

- User privileges - Does everyone need access?

- Agree an incident response and disaster recovery plan to enforce if there is an attack

- Always monitor inbound and outbound traffic

- Limit the amount of removable devices e.g. USB drives - only purchase from secure sites or buy them instore and not online.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small or large business, it is vital to prioritise ramping up your security efforts and take the necessary precautions to ensure your company is not a victim of this kind of online attack!


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