Small businesses need to protect against cyber attacks
We’ve all heard the horror stories about cyber-attacks, but many of us believe that it could never happen to us. However, a recent study commissioned by the UK government suggests that cyber-attacks are an increasingly common threat, especially for smaller businesses. 87% of small firms experienced a security breach over the last year – up 10% from the previous year, with affected companies experiencing 50% more attacks than a year ago.
The survey also highlighted the significant costs that can be incurred in the aftermath of a cyber-attack; the financial ramifications can be massive depending on the severity of the attack, and costs can be sustained in both recovering data and repairing systems, but also in reputation management and in defending against any client claims arising at the loss of their documents and data. The average costs for small organisations that had experienced a security breach were between £35,000 and £65,000, with some businesses shelling out more than £1 million to repair the damages – money that few can spare.
Businesses hold a variety of data which is deemed valuable by cyber attackers, and which can cause financial loss and reputational damage if lost. The Data Protection Act was put in place to shield consumers from data breaches and identity theft, and failing to take precautions against cyber-attacks can also place you in breach of the act, giving clients a firm case against you if they do take a claim against you.
Keeping electronic information safe is therefore vital to any business, and precautionary measures must be taken by even the smallest of businesses. Cyber security should be part of business risk management process, as well as featuring in staff training.
Precautionary measures are an absolute must; up-to-date firewall software will protect against the cyber-attacks themselves, whilst professional indemnity insurance will be a godsend should the worst happen and a cyber-attack occur. Companies like Markel allow businesses to tailor their policies, so even a one-man band can afford the correct insurance cover to protect against cyber-attacks. Businesses which outsource their IT services, or who use contractors must be extra aware of the issues, and put processes in place which combats the risk.
Cyber-attacks now pose a very real risk to small businesses, but there are moves which can be made to protect your business against this risk.
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Photo: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills