More than half of all SMEs in the UK were targets of some form of cyber security attack in 2022 and those businesses who became victims of such attacks reported average losses of £8,000. Yet nearly 20% of small businesses continue to operate without even basic protection against such threats.
In addition, almost 60% of SMEs that are victims of successful Cyber attacks go out of business within 6 months. Such are the devastating consequences of cyber security lapses!
According to a World Economic Forum report, 95% of cyber security breaches result from human error. So putting a simple web security protocol and training in place can be a good starting point for SMEs who want to develop resilience against such threats. But that’s not going to be enough – you will need a comprehensive cyber security plan.
However, for most small and mid-sized ventures in the UK, the main hurdle to implementing robust cyber security measures stems from:
The cost factor: Without a doubt, most small and mid-sized businesses cannot afford to have a dedicated cyber security team or even a cybersecurity expert on their payroll. But being a sitting duck is simply not an option in this case.
As a business owner, there really is only one question that you need to ask yourself; with the risk of cyber security threats increasing at an alarming rate, can you really afford to not do anything? In the end, leaving things to chance means that you risk not only the reputation of your business but also its very existence.
Lack of understanding: Your business is certainly not the only organization that lacks understanding of the various IT security threats. Nearly 50% of major conglomerates report that their dedicated IT teams are not completely prepared to face all emerging cyber security threats.
Lack of resources: Any business can get a simple firewall and anti-virus software to create a first line of defence, but many don’t, and as the startling statistics reveal, more is definitely needed!
Most small and mid-sized businesses don’t have the skills or the financial input required to gather such resources in house.
We simplify cyber security for you. To begin with, we carefully analyse the IT security requirements of your business based on the sectorial needs, as well as the specific threats that your business operations are likely to face.
Next, we propose a solution that is tailor-made for your organization, in terms of its size and requirements. Our experts know that the internet is littered with jargon-heavy and complicated nuggets of wisdom that can be incredibly confusing to implement.
We lay great emphasis on ensuring that your team and you are as much a part of your cyber security solution as our experts. So we simplify things every step of the way by explaining to you:
The best part is that we explain everything in plain English! Plus, we are right there with you every step of the way to guide you, help you, and ensure that our experts are on hand to tackle any threats.
Ransomware: According to a 2021 report from the National Cyber Security Centre, ransomware is the most significant threat to SMEs in the UK. Ransomware is effectively a virus that is distributed through e-mails, malicious websites and downloadable files.
Once it gets into the device, it stops you from accessing your files by encrypting them, and can often infect the entire network, shutting you out of your data. These attacks are shockingly common, with as many as one in four SMEs reporting ransomware attacks in the last 12 months. Of these, nearly half paid the ransom to free up their files and devices – but even paying the ransom is no guarantee that you will get your data back!
Data breach: This is the second most common type of cyber security threat faced by UK businesses and involves the theft of critical and/or client information. Nearly 16% of SMEs suffered a data breach in 2022.
Email Phishing/Whaling Scams: The exploitation of the human element in such attacks is what makes them particularly dangerous and commonplace. Almost 15% of all SMEs reported suffering from this threat last year. For this scam, cybercriminals send authentic-looking emails with malicious links to the employees of a business in an attempt to steal banking details and other sensitive passwords that will give them access to the company’s funds.
Zero Day Attacks: In this type of threat, hackers exploit existing vulnerabilities in your system to install malware. Once the virus infects the system, it destroys and steals business data and disrupts vital business functions.
Get the employees involved: In small and mid-sized businesses employees often don multiple hats and all that running about can lead to inadvertent lapses. These can create vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. So, it’s imperative to not only have cyber security protocols in place but also to train your employees on the risks of cyber threats and the measures that can be used to prevent attacks.
Always use antivirus software: Pick software that protects your devices from malware, spyware, ransomware, and phishing scams. Opt for a product that also allows you to clean up infected systems and resets them to their pre-infected state.
You will generally get what you pay for, if its free it won’t offer the same level of protection as enterprise grade software.
Don’t ignore software updates: As cyber security threats evolve, software vendors constantly provide updates to combat vulnerabilities in their products. These patches are offered as part of their updates. While some software programs are configured to automatically update, others have to be updated manually. It’s important to make sure all programs are regularly updated, and managed patch management software can help with this.
Be prepared for the worst: In the event of a cyber-attack, your data could be seriously compromised or damaged to the point of being unrecoverable. So, keep yourself ready for such an eventuality with frequent data backups. Ideally, you should go for a service/program that allows you to schedule automatic data backups, always ensure there are copies of your data stored offsite, and if there is a member of staff responsible for changing backup media – ensure they are doing so.
Encrypt critical information: Bank account details, credit card numbers, and passwords should always be encrypted at rest and in transmission. A good encryption program alters this information into unreadable codes, making it useless to hackers even if they were to gain access to it.
Restrict access to critical information: When it comes to sensitive data, allow access to it on a strict need-to-know basis with role based access controls. This will not only reduce the risk of inadvertent data breaches but will also limit the possibility of data access and misuse by internal bad-faith actors.
Ensure your Wi-Fi network is secure: WPA2 and later network versions are more secure than WEP, so if you have not upgraded your Wi-Fi infrastructure in the last few years, you may want to check this out. Also, try to use a pre-shared key passphrase for greater protection.
Use strong passwords and password managers: A 15-character password is undoubtedly safer than a 5-character password. Similarly, passwords that contain a mix of character types afford greater security. Also, regular password changes lower the risk of password theft and misuse. If handling too many passwords is a problem, use a password management tool that allows you to control all your login details with a single master PIN.
Install a firewall: A firewall can protect the equipment used in the network, by blocking malicious programs from entering your system, and an active one that automatically detects and blocks suspicious activity will be best. So, this is an effective preventative measure.
Don’t ignore mobile devices: These can be a challenge to secure and will be a massive vulnerability if you allow your employees to hold sensitive information on such devices. So, make it mandatory for all employees to password-protect their mobile devices and install security apps and reporting procedures on them. You can limit the data that can be accessed on mobile devices using Mobile Device Manaement and Conditional Access policies.
Make sure that third parties are just as security conscious: If third parties such as customers or suppliers have access to your systems, make sure that they too have sufficient security measures in place before you grant access to them.
MFA – Multi factor authentication: Most services now offer this; in addition to entering the correct username and password, MFA also requires you to provide a code, usually sent using an app on your mobile device. Adding this additional security greatly reduces the chances of a hacker successfully accessing your accounts.
At Headstart, our experts take a multi-pronged approach to cyber security that uses:
So you can benefit from our years of experience and training to put in place a comprehensive cyber security protocol that prepares your business for the cyber threats of today and tomorrow.
We often represent our clients when their own customers (including large banks) and prospects interrogate the cyber security measures they have in place.
And we do all of this while providing a 5 star level of IT support and project delivery (check our reviews here and on Google). We minimise your risk exposure and help you to channel your business resources where they are truly needed; to run the business and to make a profit!
Headstart has the expertise and the resources to provide security at scale. So, while you work on growing your business, our elite team has you covered for your internet security requirements.
Genuinely care about their customers
I’ve known James for years and we have used his company Headstart IT for 3 years or so now. They’re a great business who genuinely care about their customers.
As a small business, I’ve struggled to find a reliable supplier in this space for 20 years – it’s such a relief to find a business like James’.