IT’S NO CRIME FOR SMEs TO SAFEGUARD THEIR DIGITAL FUTURE AGAINST CYBER TERRORISM
Cyber crime is one of the hot issues of the moment, with government and the private sector becoming increasingly concerned about the threat cyber criminals pose to UK business.
Yet despite these fears, research carried by Lifeline IT, has revealed that an alarming 60% of businesses are not prepared to deal with cyber crime.
The main reason for this is that SMEs can be worryingly complacent towards IT security. Recent global studies show that UK SMEs have some of the worst network security in Europe, with 25% admitting that security breaches had led to loss of business and almost a quarter of small companies having no security software.
Cyber crime is a very real and worrying threat. The fact that cyber criminals are not visible, coupled with the rapid pace of technology, makes it even harder for business to keep ahead.
We know from research, as well as our own experience of working with clients, that companies are failing to protect themselves adequately against cyber crime. Smaller businesses have a major challenge – they have fewer resources than larger companies but still have to maintain security standards.
A third of the world’s population now uses the internet and it is key to global commerce, communications and entertainment. As the dependence on cyber space increases, so have the opportunities for criminals to take advantage of lapses in cyber security. It is already known that 51% of malicious software threats ever identified were in 2009, and that between 2008 and 2009, there was a 14% increase in on-line banking losses.
But what can small businesses do to safeguard themselves, their business and their employees? Although small companies are at risk, they do have advantages. They have the ability to be dynamic and make changes quickly – this is a significant benefit in cyber security as the ability to adapt fast is essential in combating an ever changing threat.
Make sure you always keep your infrastructure defence systems, such as firewalls, up to date – it’s easy to overlook these things when you’re running your own business but neglecting IT security could be a costly mistake in the long-term.
Whilst changes in working practices, including the growth of home and remote working, and the reliance of global trading on technology have created opportunities, they have also increased threats.
Make yourself aware of what’s happening in the IT world and know what’s going on in your company and with your employees. Regularly brief staff on the importance of steps for protecting PCs, and identify key systems as part of a strategy of awareness. These are key things you should do and are often easier to achieve in a smaller environment.
Whilst your staff are your best asset, they can also unintentionally create risks. The growth of mobile communications means your employees could be carrying confidential company data (such as emails, contact details) in their pocket with a Blackberry or other similar device. If one of these gets into the wrong hands, it could be hugely detrimental to your business.
The government has recently pledged £500 million to tackle cyber crime, with its four-year National Cyber Security programme, aimed at closing the gap between the modern digital age and rapidly growing risks associated with the internet, telecommunications, networks and computer systems. But despite this considerable investment, there is still concern amongst companies over the lack of credible advice available on the issue of cyber crime. One initiative helping to address this is the CyberCrime Security Forum 2011 (www.cybercrimeuk.com), which will offer practical advice from the world’s leading digital security experts on how businesses can protect themselves from identity theft, hacking and cyber warfare. Taking place in London in May 2011, the two-day forum will cover key subjects such as forensics, social networking security (SNS), password protection and infrastructure security. For more details on the CyberCrime Security Forum, go to www.cybercrimeuk.com