The Importance of Cyber Security for SMEs

Cyber security for businesses has become increasingly crucial as hackers become more and more sophisticated. No matter how small your business, you could be putting yourself at risk of cyber-crime. This article explains how to help protect your business against this growing threat.

hacker on laptop

What exactly is cyber-crime?

Cyber-crime is criminal activity carried out by means of computers or the internet. Individuals or criminal groups target networks to steal personal information in order to profit from the data available to them. There are a number of common cyber threats:

  • Phishing emails - bogus emails asking for security information and personal details
  • Webcam manager - criminals take over your webcam and then blackmail you with the images
  • File hijacker - criminals gain access to files and hold them to ransom
  • Keylogging - criminals record what you type on your keyboard, which usually gives away important passwords
  • Screenshot manager - criminals take screenshots of your computer screen
  • Ad clicker - fake adverts that give criminals remote access to your computer through a specific link

Falling for any of these types of crime may have a significant impact on your business, both financially and reputationally. Consumers are more aware than ever of the potential risks to their personal information: 25% of medium-sized businesses said that they have been directly asked by a current or potential customer about what cyber security measures they have in place, according to a report by the Independent.

Furthermore, SMEs need protection against financial loss if their customers' personal identifiable information (PII) is lost, stolen or leaked. From April 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) means a company can be fined up to £20 million or 4% of its turnover (whichever is the higher figure).

All this means it is more important than ever that you ensure your business and your customers are protected by comprehensive cyber-security.

Are SMEs at risk of a cyber attack?

In short, yes. According to a report by the Federation of Small Businesses, two thirds of their members were victims of cyber-crime between 2014 and 2016. It appears that many small business owners believe that their business is too small to be targeted and are therefore not investing in the necessary cyber-security measures.

Cyber security for SMEs

There are a number of ways you can help to protect your business from a cyber-attack to help yourself and your customers.

Understand the risks

It is important you know the risks faced by your business in order to help protect against them. The EU's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) stipulates that businesses have 72 hours to report a breach of personal data or face huge fines which could have significant implications on your business.

Keep passwords updated

This is some of the oldest advice out there but it can still be an effective way to help protect you against cyber-attacks. Using a password generator can be a good way to come with hard-to-crack passwords.

Be vigilant with emails

Delete suspicious emails and ensure that your staff are trained to spot anything that looks slightly out of the ordinary. Phishing emails are getting more convincing and and criminals are changing tactics regularly so ensure that staff are kept up-to-date with the latest information on bogus emails.

Invest in cyber protection insurance

Cyber security insurance can help to protect your business against the risks of a cyber-attack and can even help to limit the damage caused by a successful attempt to access your business data. Our cyber protection insurance cover can offer dedicated cyber security against the latest digital threats, as well as support such as data recovery and cyber business interruption in the event of an attack.

laptop cyber security

What to do in the event of a cyber-attack

In the event of a cyber-attack it is important that you act quickly and having a plan in place may help to limit damage. Safeguarding data should be a priority, especially if that data is crucial to the running of your business. See below the steps your should take in the event of a cyber-attack.

Log and monitor any suspicious activity

This can help to inform you as soon as a breach happens, giving you a chance to respond quickly and limit potential damage. It is also useful to have a trail of activity carried out by the hacker.

Regularly back up your data

This will make it easier to access data to reduce downtime in the event of a breach. However, there is a risk that you may restore the same vulnerabilities which caused the breach in the first place, so you should consult a specialist on how to mitigate this risk.

Inform your cyber security insurance provider

To give you peace of mind, you can get a cyber protection insurance policy tailored to your needs from Towergate. Our policies can provide cover for a range of different cyber-attack scenarios including cyber business interruption, hacker damage reimbursement and cyber extortion insurance. For more information visit our dedicated cyber liability insurance page, check out our useful infographic, or call us on 0330 1235 740.

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