Procurement · 11 October 2017

Government guide provides five tips for small business online security

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Strong passwords are one of the best ways to protect devices

Britain’s government-backed National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has published a guide to small business online security, enabling firms to protect themselves against online attacks.

Launched on 11 October, the small business online security guide aims to help firms make vital improvements to defend against cyber attacks, and educate owners about the need for online protection of company data.

The guide splits its small business online security advice into five categories, focusing on; backing up data, using stronger log-in details and passwords, protecting against malware attacks, avoiding phishing scams and keeping devices safe.

The guide follows research, published earlier this year by the department for digital, culture, media and sport, which found that nearly 45 per cent of all UK micro businesses had identified a cyber security breach in their operation in the last 12 months.

Around a quarter of micro business owners still consider protecting against cyber attacks to be a low priority, however the research showed that as many as 35 per cent of those companies had nonetheless experienced an online breach.

The NCSC’s director for engagement, Alison Whitney, said that the cyber security guide had been made simple and “easy to access” for any owners who may be unfamiliar with the online side of their business.

She said: Protecting against malware, backing up data and avoiding phishing attacks should be as second nature to a small firm as cashing up or locking the doors at night.

“Whether you own a bakery, a building firm or you sell products online, our advice will help all business owners avoid threats that can cost time, money and reputation.”

Welcoming the government’s new guide, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) national chairman, Mike Cherry, said that cyber attacks on small companies was now costing the UK economy around £5bn each year. “Cyber crime is one of the fastest growing risks to small businesses and support to tackle it is essential,” he added.

“Without the time, resources and in-house expertise, it can be challenging to know the best, and even most basic, steps of defence. We therefore welcome this simple and practical guidance to help small businesses protect themselves against common cyber threats in the first place.”

According to the NCSC, one simple way small businesses can defend against cyber attacks is to always install the latest software and app updates across devices, and demand strong, separate passwords for email accounts.

A business raising awareness of cyber security – there’s no “silver bullet

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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