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How big a threat is cybercrime for SMEs

In today’s increasingly connected world, our reliance on technology is putting us more at risk of cybercrime. SMEs that put their head in the sand need to understand that without the right cyber security in place, this escalating threat could have a detrimental impact on their business.

Cyber security can come with a huge price tag for small businesses in the UK. Recent statistics show that 43% of businesses have suffered a cyber breach or attack in the past year alone and without proper protection in place, these breaches could cost as much as £25,000 to resolve.

It is very common for small businesses to ignore potential threats because they deem themselves as too insignificant to be targeted by cyber criminals. The truth is, by thinking they are too small, they are putting themselves at even greater risk.

In the wake of the new GDPR legislation, companies who fail to put adequate safeguards in place could face legal action and risk fines of up to £17 million or 4% of their annual turnover. According to specialist business insurance broker PolicyBee, at least 74% of small businesses do not have any funds put aside to deal with potential threats.

As technology advances, so does cybercrime. Any protection solutions businesses have in place need to be constantly improved and adapted to mitigate any potential threat.

Over the past few years, there has been a surge of new apps all designed to aid our productivity both in and out of the office. Like most IT software, these apps are designed with good intentions. Employees use them for their daily duties and whilst forward-thinking companies recognise their benefits, they may fail to realise the implications of staff using unsecure apps.

Unless they are fully encrypted, cyber criminals may be able to use such apps to gain access to sensitive data. This includes data stored on the cloud.

Many companies use one central cloud system in which all their work and information is stored and be able to share documents across the business. However, if cloud systems are breached, cyber criminals can gain access to sensitive data including personal information, not just for employees but also customers.

To protect against a breach and minimise the risk of sensitive data being accessed, organisations should operate regulatory control, regardless of their size. Any file stored on the cloud that contains sensitive data, including employee or customer details, should be properly locked down and only accessed by authorised personnel.

When looking to introduce new technology in the workplace, companies must ensure the implementation is correct and all staff are fully trained on the system. There must also be a procedure in place to ensure the technology is kept up to date. As potential flaws in encryption are realised, most software companies provide updates that recode the software, making it harder for hackers to gain access.

Cybercrime can be catastrophic for any business. Reputations are damaged, clients are lost and expenses are incurred to rectify the problem. Bouncing back from cyber-attacks is not a smooth process, statistics taken from Denver Post state that one single cyber-attack resulted in the closure of up to 60% of small businesses, in just six months.

Remember, the world at our fingertips isn’t always the safest and it is up to you to protect your business against cyber-attacks. Secure, up to date systems are key to protecting your business, so don’t leave your business open for attack – fight back.

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