7 ways for SMEs to stay cyber safe

cyber security

Despite two thirds of small businesses having been a victim of cybercrime, one in four owners admitted they aren’t up to date on the cyber security measures that could defend them against digital attacks in a recent survey.

To help SMEs ensure their lack of dedicated IT department doesn’t make them a soft target, A&O IT One Solution has prepared a check list to keep their company cyber safe:

Review the data that your business holds to recognise which assets need additional protection, which employees or third parties can access it and identify whether data is adequately backed up. Consider encrypting any sensitive data or reducing network access to certain users, particularly when working remotely or using personal devices for work.

Stay secure through regular IT upgrades and anti-malware software updates. Recent research indicated that a third of SME owners aren’t kept up to date with the latest IT regulations that could leave them vulnerable to hacking.

Train staff to understand the risks and their responsibilities to keeping the company secure. With a third of employees regularly accessing social media sites such as Facebook while at work and only half of SMEs providing their team with internet and computer usage guidelines, education is key to limiting external threats.

Check you have the right level of technical support in place for your business needs. Whilst 61.9 per cent of responders admitted life would be easier if an IT engineer was located nearby or on site, it isn’t always possible for SMEs to employ a dedicated IT expert. Outsourcing to experts is a practical solution, ensuring the right controls are in place and a trusted expert is always available to resolve any issues.

Run regular checks to test the effectiveness of your procedures against cyber security and manage any changes in risk levels to your organisation. Specialists can help customers review their systems to ensure they’re always prepared against the ever-evolving cyber risks.

Have a plan in place so everyday business can continue even if attacked. Where websites are designed to take payment, this might include having alternative procedures in place so that transactions can continue to be taken.

Report any cyber-attacks to the police via the UK government’s Action Fraud website so that criminal networks can be identified and brought to account. If any data has been compromised, it’s also important to notify any customers affected.

Make sure all your staff are issued with written internet usage guidelines and ensure they acknowledge they have received and understood its’ contents.

Rod Moore, chairman of A&O IT One Solution, said: “The reality is that the innovations that have increased efficiencies across SMEs are the same ones that are making businesses vulnerable to commercial risks.

“As cybercrime continues to rise and small businesses emerge as the most hacked sector it’s vital that companies act now to protect themselves against attacks that could have a devastating impact on their bottom line.”