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A Complete Guide to Cybersecurity for Small Businesses. Information on IT Security Auditing, Detection and Prevention from IT Support Experts in Oxford, UK.

Complete Guide To Cybersecurity For SMEs

UK government survey estimated the average cost of a cyber attack on a small business to be between £65,000 and £115,000.

Recent trends are showing that cyber attacks on small businesses are increasing.

In fact, according to a report by Small Business Trends, 43% of cyber attacks are aimed at SMEs.

This piece explains the importance of cybersecurity for small businesses and how to protect your business against cyber criminals.

Why Is Cybersecurity Important?

A recent UK government survey estimated the average cost of a cyber attack on a small business to be between £65,000 and £115,000.

However, according to specialist business insurance brokers, most businesses do not have the funds put aside to deal with such attacks if they occur.

This leaves SMEs even more vulnerable to the effects of cyberattacks.

In fact, over 60% of small businesses go out of business within 6 months of a cyber attack.

With more and more cyber attacks targeted toward SMEs, there has never been a more important time to invest in cybersecurity solutions to protect your business against cyber threats.

Any business that holds data – this includes email addresses, phone numbers, billing addresses etc. are at risk, as hackers can leverage this data to make money. 

It’s not just cybercriminal attacks that businesses need to be aware of for their cybersecurity plan, with the introduction of regulations like the UK GDPR came the need for organisations to take security even more seriously so as to avoid costly fines.

Related reading: Focus On Security to Meet GDPR Regulations.

Cyber Security During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic has hit businesses in ways we couldn’t possibly imagine. 

This goes far beyond sales and marketing. Businesses are being hit by cyber hackers, too. 

Unfortunately, one in three cyber attacks on small businesses is Coronavirus related.

The attacks are extremely creative. Hackers are using pubic fear around the pandemic to maximise phishing email opportunities.

Interpol has found the following data on pandemic cyber attacks:

  • Of all the attacks since the pandemic started, 59% have been phishing scams. 
  • Malware and Ransomware form 36% of cyber attacks to small businesses.
  • 22% were from malicious domains and 14% were misinformation.

Cyber Risks To Small Businesses

So, as we can see, cybercriminals are constantly evolving and developing increasingly sophisticated ways to attack small businesses.

Fear can make you behave in unusual ways.

Something you might not have clicked on before, you might now click on if it’s Coronavirus related. 

That’s why it’s much more important now, more than ever to ensure your businesses cyber security systems have been audited and are in place. 

For your own peace of mind, these are the common cyber attacks that SMEs should be watching out for and protecting against in 2020. 

1. Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is when cybercriminals hold your computer files hostage. Thus keeping your business from accessing important documents and financial information.

The files are still on your computer, but the malware has encrypted your device, making the data stored inaccessible. 

In order to retrieve access, the business is forced to pay the cybercriminal within a set amount of time or risk losing access forever, although this doesn’t ensure that the cybercriminal will restore access. 

2. Malware

Malware often takes the form of a computer virus; a computer program specifically designed to be downloaded without a user’s knowledge, allowing the software to cause serious damage or data breaches.

Malware can be downloaded in a variety of ways like clicking on an infected file, viewing an infected website or opening an infected email attachment. 

Even more worrying is that, just like a human virus, computer viruses are designed to spread from one computer to another, leaving your whole business at risk. 

3. DDoS Attacks

A DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack is when cybercriminals disrupt a website’s normal web traffic by overwhelming a system, server or network causing it to crash.

This can be particularly harmful to eCommerce businesses during peak periods. 

The repetitional and financial damage of DDoS cyberattacks can be severe, and SMEs need to take this risk seriously when designing a small business cybersecurity plan. 

4. Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attacks

MITM attacks are one of the oldest types of cyberattacks, it is when a third party intercepts between two parties and ‘listens in’ to their activity.

Gaining access to confidential communication, including login credentials, financial information and more. 

MITM methods on SMEs have become significantly more advanced over time, for example, users unknowingly access the internet through a fake Wi-Fi access point where they can then be monitored.

The access point’s owner can then ‘listen in’ to this connection and steal confidential data or financial information.

5. Phishing and Smishing Attacks

Phishing has been a tactic used by cyber security hackers for decades. 

‘Smishing’ is another term for a social engineering attack. 

Like Phishing, Smishing is an attack used to trick unsuspecting victims into releasing private information.

Largely, we’ve become attune to what Phishing attacks look like, and businesses have been increasing their cyber security protocols to safeguard against Phishing. 

However, hackers have become savvier, and are creating sophisticated ‘phishing kits’ that target victims in different ways depending on their location.

Smishing, on the other hand is newer and harder to identify. 

This new kind of cyber attack targets messaging platform users. 

It tricks them into downloading malware onto their mobile phones through fraudulent messages. 

These come in various types. Some range from charitable organisations to hacked friends accounts asking for financial help. 

They key here is to download antivirus software onto your phone and call people if they have sent you a ‘dodgy’ looking link in a message.  

Related reading: Top Security Predictions For 2020

SMEs Most At Risk Of Cyber Crime

Many small businesses believe themselves to be less at risk of cyber attacks than compared to large enterprises.

Why would cybercriminals be interested in a small business?

Unfortunately, it is precisely because you are a small business that you are more at risk of cyberattacks. 

Smaller enterprises, although, equally at risk, are often less equipped to deal with potential threats, leaving them far more vulnerable to criminals.

A report by Small Business Trends found that although 58% of SMEs are concerned about cyberattacks.

Only 38% are taking measures to regularly update software.

But only 22% encrypt their databases. 

Meanwhile, larger enterprises are more likely to invest in proper, more sophisticated cybersecurity measures in order to protect their data and safeguard against cyber attacks.

Related reading: Do I Still Need Security Software?

How To Protect SMEs From Cyber Attacks

Fortunately, there are measures SMEs in the UK can put in place to prevent cybercrime.

Working with a reputable IT security company to update security procedures to protect against cyber attacks is the best investment an SME can make to avoid the costly aftermath of recovering from an attack. 

In order to provide the best cybersecurity, the service needs to be tailored to each individual company – there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to SME cybersecurity.

The best IT Security companies will need to spend time getting to know a business; to identify the critical systems and what teams do on a daily basis.

Doing this will allow a company to advise on the best measures moving forward and to design a bespoke cybersecurity personal to each business. 

Prevention Measures

When it comes to cybersecurity protection, prevention is always better than cure.

SMEs need to be proactively monitoring systems and endpoints to be able to identify potential beaches in order to react and shut them down before any effects are seen or before malware spreads company-wide.

By proactively monitoring IT systems and endpoints we can spot potential breaches and react before they take root, isolating compromised devices on the network to prevent malware from spreading. 

Believe it or not, the biggest risk to an SME is its own staff.

Far too often, a well-meaning member of staff accidentally clicks on an infected email and downloads a piece of malware.

In fact, over 80% of security breaches can be traced back to accidental human error. 

Making sure staff know what to look out for when it comes to cybersecurity best practices and how to deal with a potential phishing email or ransomware attack can make all the difference to keeping your organisation safe. 

Firstline IT offers tailored staff cybersecurity training as a key service to SMEs.

We tailor our training to staff’s knowledge levels, teaching how to keep information secure and what to watch out for.

Firstline IT can then send out fake phishing emails in order to test knowledge learned from training as well as monitor staff behaviour to identify any possible threats.

Find out more about Firstline It Cybersecurity Staff Training

Comprehensive Cybersecurity Plan

Firstline IT works with SMEs to design bespoke cybersecurity plans to suit each business’ needs.

Our IT support offering covers a range of services to suit their budget whilst delivering the best value possible.

Including a cybersecurity audit, cybersecurity monitoring and detection and comprehensive staff training.

At Firstline IT we work with you to understand your business, your IT systems, what your staff do and how they do it so we can put together a bespoke cybersecurity solution that suits you and your budget.

We are certified Managed Service Provider for Sophos, a well-known cybersecurity software provider.

Firstline IT is able to offer enterprise-level solutions to SMEs. 

Find out more about Firstline IT Cybersecurity Services

Get In Touch

If you would like more information about how Firstline IT can help assess your security posture and recommend the right security solution for your business, then please request a callback, and one of our cybersecurity experts will be in touch to discuss your bespoke solution.

Want to discuss your organisation’s needs?

Speak to us

Existing customer: 01865 598 100

New business:01865 598 145