Outsmarting hackers: cybersecurity essentials for small businesses

Cyber-attacks are a particular problem for small businesses. They are often viewed as vulnerable because they inevitably have a smaller IT infrastructure compared to the big corporations. So how can you strengthen your digital defence?

According to a recent Verizon study, SMEs fall prey to 43% of cyber-attacks. We just don’t often hear about it. Attacks on banks or big businesses rightly make headlines, but the significant threat that smaller organisations face can often go unnoticed.

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of small and mid-sized businesses that are hacked go out of business within six months. It could be as simple as falling for an email scam or not encrypting passwords, but the effects can be devastating.

There is plenty of help to be found though. Below are a few cyber security essentials to help you stay alert of security breaches.

Dangers and impact

Phishing emails are a common method that hackers use to install malware or ransomware, accounting for 90% of all data breaches. It’s a trick in the simplest terms – they are attempting to get people to click a bad link or the wrong email that will open them up to attack. It’s often used to steal data such as banking details, personal information or business secrets that can then be sold on or leveraged for financial gain.

Some scams are obvious and we can roll our collective eyes as we spot them. But those clumsy attempts to deceive can make the more sophisticated ones a whole lot easier to miss. And they are missed often, by people at every step of the business hierarchy.

Then there is ransomware, which involves hackers locking up a victim’s systems and demanding payment to unlock it. It has the potential to shut an entire business down. Data from Intercity suggests that a business with 100 employees that experienced fewer than three outages in a year – and none lasting more than ten hours – would face losses amounting to more than £1.4m.

Building cyber resilience

It all sounds pretty scary, but there is plenty that you can do to boost your defences. The first, most simple action, is staff training and regular reminders to be cautious.

Teaching employees how to detect phishing, and what to do if they are suspicious, is key. You could then move on to training on how to secure devices, update programmes safely and navigate error messages. With more employees spending some of their working week at home, this is particularly important, with home Wi-Fi networks not providing the same level of security as in a business headquarters or flexible workspace. All Spaces locations have secure Wi-Fi, private office spaces, and tech support that contributes to a safer digital environment.

An IT audit is also a simple step to help reveal where your business’s vulnerabilities lie. You could go for a formal, catch-all investigation of your systems and practices, and these audits can be invaluable. But many companies also employ ethical hackers, whose job it is to try and break into your network, website, or IT infrastructure to let you know where the weaknesses are.

Embracing a holistic approach to resilience becomes a key competitive advantage in times of disruption. In addition to taking preventative measures to tackle potential cyberthreats, having a Workplace Recovery Plan should also be considered an integral part of any organisation’s long-term strategy. Through our Workplace Recovery Plans, Spaces offers tailored support to companies as they tackle the consequences of events, including cyber-attacks, and technological breakdowns, as well as natural disasters and political unrest, to ensure they can remain productive despite the disruption.

Want to know more about how our Workplace Recovery Plans could work for your business? Get in touch and see how we can help.

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