The benefits that the digital economy has brought to small businesses are obvious to all owners, no matter what area of operations you might specialise in. However, as with everything that brings positives to the table, there are downsides too. One of the biggest of these is the threat of cybercrime. Although you might think that malicious hackers or organised crime are uninterested in your operation, sadly, you could be wrong. Any commercial business that deals with customer or client data can be a target and sensitive information such as personal and banking details will always be of interest to people with criminal intent. This means that you must give any risks from cybercrime close attention when it comes to mitigating them and if possible negating them completely.
Earlier this year, Aviva, the UK’s largest commercial insurer, revealed that 2 in 5 businesses still think they are not at risk from cybercrime, even though the same report showed that more than a third of business owners said they had been the victim of activities such as hacking and phishing. In fact, 75% of those who had admitted to be affected cited costs of up to £1,000 to rectify matters. The report found the top risks were phishing, identity theft and hacking, although 43% also reported ransom demands being made by criminals relating to illegally encrypted data.
What is cybercrime?
With the reality being that every business connected to the internet can be in danger, losses can be both direct and indirect, with the latter accounting for things such as downtime and loss of productivity. However, direct theft of data is the most worrying risk and the constant flow of high-profile breaches that hit the headlines show how wide the problem is for business across the spectrum. The value of personal digitised data in the contemporary marketplace is immense, as more and more transactions are carried out online, and identity theft is such a big area of vulnerability. Other top data targets include intellectual property and databases of employees and business partners such as supply line contacts.
Are small businesses really at risk?
If you think your business is simply too small to be of interest to cybercriminals you must think again. Even the fact that you operate online in any capacity means that your machines could be used in a malicious Denial of Service (DoS) attack, or utilised in some other way for any number of malicious reasons. When it comes to looking after the personal data of others that has been entrusted to you in transactions of any kind, the stakes become even higher, as legislation becomes tighter and business that suffer security breaches can be fined and hit with other penalties.
Thankfully there are any number of simple precautions you can take to minimise and even completely remove risk. Often the cybercrime that small and medium sized business suffer from
is relatively unsophisticated, so making sure that passwords are strong, kept safe and are regularly changed can really make a difference. Making sure that software systems are updated with the latest patches and versions is also essential for any security strategy, as is making sure staff are fully trained in secure behaviours. Even today, a great deal of cybercrime revolves around ‘social engineering’ – old style con tricks that work on a person-to-person level.
Advice and training
Finding out how firewalls, bespoke security packages and other hardware and software solutions go hand in hand with the right approach on a personal level might sound like a daunting task, however, there are third party organisations dedicated to giving you the answers you need. Govnet is the UK’s leading Public Sector events organiser and publisher that has been helping the public, private and third sector clients for more than ten years. By providing high quality training, more than 20,000 senior professionals from a wide range of areas have already benefited from the insight, experience and information on offer.
Prevention is better than cure
When it comes to cybercrime prevention is definitely better than cure. Sadly, it is a problem that isn’t going to go away, if anything, the risks are likely to become more prevalent. Having said that, like many other criminal activities, cybercrime will usually direct itself at the easiest targets and that’s why taking strong and decisive preventative action is not just a good idea, it is a necessity in the contemporary digital commercial environment.
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