Are you at risk of an attack on cyber security?

In January it was banking giant HSBC, while the bill for the attack on Talk Talk is now more than £60 million. Though the news is filled with large corporates suffering from cyber attacks, statistics show that small and medium sized businesses are far more likely to become victims.

When a small Blackburn-based firm was hit with a virus last year, access to 12,000 business critical files was lost. With no contingency in place, the only option was to pay the £3,000 demand to regain access – but this is not an isolated case.

Across the country, more and more small businesses are being held hostage by online bandits. The big question is, how can you make sure you are not next?

Size definitely matters

It is estimated that over half of all SME’s in the UK haven’t made any updates to their online security in the past two years, and more than 20% of all smaller companies do not even make their employees aware of the risks that weak online security can have. It’s this lack of basic awareness that makes the smaller business far more susceptible.

An online attack on an SME costs an average of two thirds of all income, and as small businesses are less likely to be able to withstand such losses, the overall effect can be even more catastrophic.

This exposure has been particularly apparent in Ireland recently, with a big increase in the number of cyber attacks on small Irish law firms. While smaller companies are developing their business foundations, investment in online security is rarely a priority. But when that attack occurs, you will wish it was.

It could be you!

Some businesses feel they aren’t at risk simply because they don’t hold information that would be of value to hackers. This assumption is particularly prolific within the manufacturing community.

However, the increase in reliance on automated processes within the sector has created the ideal prime target for hackers, not because they have something the criminals want, but simply because they provide an easy opportunity.

A junior in Seaham was recently convicted for hacking his local police station website. Not to gain information or cause disruption, but simply to show off to his friends. A majority of local cyber criminals attack for kudos or for experience, and small businesses provide the ideal target.

It doesn’t matter where you are

During the past twelve months in Yorkshire, cyber-attacks have been increasingly prevalent. One recent survey noted that more than 65% of all Yorkshire SME’s had been the target of cyber criminals, with an average business cost of these crimes estimated at between £65,000 and £115,000. Yet a significant number of organisations have still taken no action to protect themselves.

Not all attacks are from faceless strangers. They can also come from competitors who want to gain details of your new product developments, or rival companies aiming at disrupting your business processes.

Most companies will happily take precautions to protect against fire, flood and theft. Now, it’s time to take the same precautions against online crime.

Be your own defence

One UK Organised Crime Unit estimate says that as many as 80% of all cyber attacks on SME’s could be prevented with basic security measures. With our help, we think this percentage could be even higher. We offer our clients training on cyber security so that you’re aware of the protection you can put in place – from a basic understanding of how to recognise a potential threat, to simple software updates.

If you want to know if you are at risk from cyber attacks, the answer is always going to be yes. However, with support from BHP, you don’t have to be the next victim.

Shafiq Khan - blog post sign off