Cybercrime affects small businesses too

Small businesses tend to regard cybercrime as a problem that affects large companies, but research from the Federation of Small Business reveals that a staggering 66% of small firms have been the victim of cybercrime in the past two years.

benswindlehurstBy Ben Swindlehurst, cybersecurity consultant at the Begbies Traynor.

While tech is undoubtedly one of the biggest assets for modern businesses across all sectors – enabling SMEs to punch above their weight – with technical innovation comes added risk. From hackers holding data to ransom, to the theft of customer information, to disgruntled employees or former employees, small businesses are less likely to be well protected and can be seen as an easy target for cybercriminals.

A cyber attack can not only threaten a business’s access to cash, causing short-term revenue loss, it can also cause lasting damage to a company’s reputation and the goodwill of customers, as well as creating severe and costly damage to IT systems.

It’s extremely important, therefore, to have a relevant information security policy in place to defend your business against cybercrime. It’s equally important to ensure everyone in the company understands the policies and the threat that the business faces and all staff understand how they can contribute to company security – such as how to spot a suspicious email and what action to take. Some important first steps to take include:

  • Make sure sensitive company data stays safe – don’t use public computers to store sensitive data or to log into sensitive files.
  • Review all the information your business stores regularly to ensure it’s protected and firewalls are maintained. It’s also worth collecting and reviewing computing logs for use in any later investigations.
  • Smartphones can be a key area of vulnerability when used for business purposes. Employees who use their phones for work tasks – storing information, numbers, and emails from work colleagues – risk having information stolen through hacking, or the physical loss of the device. It’s worth considering the options for reducing the associated risks of smartphones.
  • Consider taking professional advice on your cybersecurity policies. Although this incurs costs the consequences of falling victim to cyber crime could be a far higher price to pay for your business.