Cybersecurity for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) is a growing concern for business owners and the wider security industry. According to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), there is a 1 in 2 chance that small businesses will experience a cyber breach.
Most small businesses simply do not have the budget to handle cyber-attacks and their aftermath. Or in some cases, cybersecurity is not a priority for the company because management do not consider it a big enough risk due to lack of understanding or having to spend resources elsewhere, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, recent research shows that one in three cyber-attacks are coronavirus related so if there’s ever a right time to be vigilant, it’s now.
What are main cybersecurity risks for small and medium businesses?
Risk #1: Data Loss or Corruption
Even small businesses can easily have several Terabytes worth of crucial data stored away. Most businesses will have a back-up solution in place, which is essential to protect yourself from technological or mechanical failures at the very least. If you don’t have a backup, then all your files and valuable digital assets are at a substantial risk of being lost.
The damage from data loss runs deeper than lost files. The extent of the damage depends on whether those files contained any sensitive data that could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Some data is rendered unusable by Malware or in the worst case – intentionally stolen by malicious individuals.
It can be extremely costly to recover data, which is usually done by specialists in a forensic laboratory with no guarantee of success.
Data thieves target smaller companies because they expect their IT security to be lesser than large companies and therefore an easier target.
Risk #2: Regulatory Fines Payable after a Breach
In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) are the regulatory body for data protection and information security. They have the power, under British legislation to issue fines to Companies who fail to comply with data protection legislation or do not do enough to prevent cyber criminals from accessing sensitive data.
The fines can be severe – the maximum fine for breaching GDPR regulations in Europe is €20,000,000 or 4% or your annual turnover (not profit).
In October 2020, British Airways received a fine for £20,000,000 for a large data breach, but small businesses are just as likely to receive a fine.
Risk #3: Disruption to Business
Any data breach or security incident is going to disrupt your daily business. You may not be able to serve customers or have your staff carry out their daily duties. There may be damage to equipment or other infrastructure and perhaps even a police investigation.
During any subsequent investigation, you may not be able to trade at all which is financially damaging for any small business, as even a single day of lost trading can have major consequences.
Risk #4: Reputational Damage and Negative Publicity
Local and National media outlets are quick to report on data breaches. Companies have a legal duty to report all potential data breaches to the ICO, so it’s not possible to keep such breaches secret.
You also have a duty to inform customers when a data breach has occurred and it affects them, and this may affect customer confidence and make them think twice before buying from you again.
It can seriously damage any trust and continuous engagement you have with your customers who will be less likely to trust you to keep their personal data safe. It may also mean that your customers end up turning to your competitors.
Local and National media outlets may publish news reports of cybersecurity attacks and significant data breaches, which means that people will see these results when searching for your company name on Google and other search engines.
Risk #5: Theft of Intellectual Property
In some cases, small businesses are targeted as an act of sabotage, using any stolen data to the advantage of another company or brand. This may seem far-fetched at first, but even social media accounts with unique usernames have been stolen by hackers and sold on for profit.
Attacks such as these are often fairly sophisticated but rely on clever forms of phishing (such as spearphishing – it’s highly targeted form), psychological tricks or human error.
Careful risk assessment and access control can help prevent these sort of cyber attacks
Who targets small businesses?
The current landscape of cybercriminals is anarchic and chaotic, consisting of:
- Government-sponsored hackers
- Private security agencies
- Hackers for hire
- Financially motivated gangs
- Individuals who hack for fun
How to Protect your Small Business against Cyber Attacks
We offer a course specifically for those who are responsible for risk management and information security. This course is specifically designed to guide you through defining and implementing a Risk Management approach within your organisation. You’ll also learn about the most common approaches and best practices used by organisations around the world.
Off-site Data Backups
Data should be backed up to multiple locations using a secure cloud service that uses end-to-end encryption to protect data.
In the event of Ransomware or even technological failure, you know your data is safe as you have a copy stored off-site. You can automate the backup process or hire a highly reputable third party company to handle your off-site backups.
Enforce strong passwords
It’s a fact that password attacks are still used by hackers and other criminals to gain illegal access to people’s accounts. Users prefer convenience over security, so will opt for an easy-to-remember and therefore easy-to-guess password instead of something random.
Password behaviour is predictable for hackers and software exists that can guess hundreds or thousands of password combinations within seconds.
Strong passwords and multi-factor authentication are a big step towards better data security.
Kick start your understanding of cybersecurity
Many business owners don’t put enough emphasis on security until it’s too late. You can stay ahead of the game by learning the fundamentals of cybersecurity before your business suffers an attack or a data breach.
Your business needs qualified specialists who can design and maintain the appropriate cybersecurity that’s tailored to your needs, such as:
- The business – in particular, the business strategy, mission, culture, operations and budget
- Cyber threats – knowing about any groups, or individuals, who are a particular threat
- Cyber risk assessments – IT system’s vulnerabilities and impact of any successful attack
- Cyber risk reduction – design, implement and maintain protective measures
- Security convergence – knowledge of all the other business security functions
- The world of cyber systems – trends and emerging threats to IT systems
They say knowledge is power, and we say that you need to think like a hacker in order to stop a hacker. The ultimate goal of cyber security is to help make the business more successful.
Our Cyber Security Kick Start Course is £24 and can be completed online in your own time.
Unlike other training companies our Kick Start courses are designed to provide a level of information that enables you to make informed decisions on the level and type of course you may wish to progress with (Try-Before-You-Buy). We also provide a discount on related qualification courses on final completion, so that you save money on chosen related courses from our portfolio.
Train your Staff into Secure Computer Users
We also offer a course to provide professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills to protect their information assets and protect themselves online. This course will immerse students into an interactive environment where they will acquire a fundamental understanding of various computer and network security threats such as identity theft, credit card fraud, online banking phishing scams, viruses, email hoaxes, loss of confidential information, hacking attacks and social engineering.
This self-study course is specifically designed for todays’ computer users who use the internet extensively to work, study and play.
Summary: Cyber Security for Small and Medium Businesses
The ever-changing world of technology is constantly evolving, and with that evolution comes new threats and ways for criminals to exploit those devices that are supposed to make our lives easier.
Cyber security is about risk management and threat mitigation. Small businesses can move quicker and therefore adapt to new threats as they occur in a more agile manner than their larger counterparts.
The risks of a data breach or cyber-attack go far beyond financial loss, the reputational damage and burden of regulatory fines means that 60% of businesses go out of business after a cyber-attack.
We have partnered with the leading organisations to deliver their accredited cyber security qualifications, with many qualifications recognised and accredited by external national organisations including GCHQ, National Security Agency and the Department of Defence.
Our range of cyber security courses provide you and your staff with the necessary skills to protect networks and assets, and we have viable routes of progression for all levels of cyber security professionals and other members of your team.