Small firms targetted by hackers and cyber thieves

Small firms- even those employing a few people or less – are increasingly being targeted by hackers and cyber thieves.You may not think you have any data worth stealing but even the smallest company will have information that represents hard cash to criminal gangs-  credit card details, customers’ names and addresses- all have a value to the criminal world.

When attention grabbing headlines such as “UK suffering 1,000 attacks an hour” are reported there is a tendency to assume this as an issue only for the larger enterprises; household names that we think of as the powerhouse of our economy.

However, that is a dangerous mistake to make.

Over the past 12 months a number of surveys have emerged which suggest that in excess of 60% of these small businesses have suffered some form of successful malware attack.

It’s not entirely surprising that small businesses are quite so poorly defended. Someone running a small business is not necessarily going to have security as their main priority.

They are typically entrepreneurs- not security experts. Money is always tight and there is a natural dynamic tension between need and cost.

You can see which way the tension is tending when you read in the same surveys that nearly 20% of small businesses only concern themselves with cyber-security following an intrusion. More worrying still, one report indicates that 10% of small businesses would have no way of knowing if they had been successfully attacked.

Sadly the perception is that it will “never happen to me” so smaller businesses put off what they see as a significant expense for what they see as a very remote eventuality.

There is even a suggestion in some surveys that smaller businesses are tempted to use unlicensed security software, or, worse, that which they are offered for “free”. The use of “free apps” has further increased the threat to your business via your smartphone.

Unfortunately, such software is far from a protection but is sometimes the very vehicle for carrying malicious software into the companies systems.

You should use “free” software only if you are sure it is from a reputable company, and that the company which built it provides it directly.

Small businesses cannot put off considering cyber-security any longer.

Just as you hire in expertise for doing the accounts, there are many who can advise on the best way to protect you and your clients’ valuable data.

Failure to do so will ultimately cause the business to fail either through direct losses from an attack, or from being dropped by customers who feel their data is inadequately protected.

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