According to a government report released last year, 87 per cent of small firms surveyed suffered an online security breach in the previous 12 months, including data corruption and loss as well as hacking and fraud.
The financial losses associated with cyber crime are just as significant for small businesses as they are for larger ones and small businesses need to do more to protect themselves and their customers online.
￼Small firms are often confident in their ability to stay safe online – around four fifths say they understand the threats to their businesses (78 per cent) and have thought about what steps to take to be secure online (83 per cent), but government research reveals a digital divide in the UK small business population.
As digital technologies transform the way we live and work, they also change the way that business is being done. There are massive opportunities for businesses that can get this right; companies who have effective cyber security in place can gain an advantage over their competitors because they are trusted by their customers. If people are aware their data and details are safe they are more likely to do business with you, but there are also risks and more businesses need to ensure they are protecting themselves from cyber criminals.
A closer look at businesses’ internet security habits shows that half of small firms could be described as ‘cyber streetwise’, while the remaining half are placing their hard earned reputations at risk by failing to protect themselves from cyber crime.
Just over half (55 per cent) of firms regularly review and update what needs to be done to keep the business safe online. Only around half of companies control access to their IT networks (48 per cent), regularly use complex access passwords (58 per cent), regularly monitor their IT systems for breaches (46 per cent) or restrict the use of USB storage devices (46 per cent).
A slightly more encouraging two thirds (66 per cent) of small companies regularly download the latest software updates and patches, but just a quarter (26 per cent) regularly encrypt confidential information.
Clearly, there is a gap between these firms’ confidence in their ability to stay safe online, and their capacity to do so in practice. While half of business leaders are getting it right, the other half are not only exposing their firms to significant risk, but also closing the door on a potential growth opportunity.
To help SME’s understand these risks and the steps they can take to protect themselves the UK Government, as part of its long term cyber security strategy, has launched ‘Cyber Streetwise’. This is a major behavioural change campaign supported by extensive online resources designed to provide SMEs with impartial advice and tips about how to make some simple but effective changes to improve their online security.
You can find out more by downloading the information pack below or visiting cyberstreetwise.com