Procurement · 27 January 2016

Lack of security puts small firms at risk

One in five small businesses reported a security breach in 2015.

The country’s small businesses are failing to take security seriously, and are at high risk of breaches that could see firms lose business, according to new research.

Security firm Digital ID found that 23 per cent of small firms in the UK had very little security for visitors, whilst 36 per cent had no visitor security processes at all, meaning that in total 59 per cent of small businesses are under protected.

Most business owners admitted to only having locks or security lights, with nearly two thirds revealing that these were only in use during working hours. Just 41 per cent had more complex security measures in place, with employee and visitor ID cards and restrictive access gates being the most popular.

Even though one in five small businesses reported experiencing a security breach in the past year, digital marketing manager at Digital ID, Adam Bennett, said that owners remained seemingly ignorant to the effects it can have on business.

“Small businesses should have cyber security in place, at the very least, but construction sites or building firms for example, should make sure there’s a level of access control in areas where items or equipment could be stolen. It’s surprising how much we hear of this kind of security breach, with a lot of it happening in broad daylight,” he said.

Security breaches can have a damaging effect on the morale of staff, on top of the financial impact. “It’s not just equipment that can be lost, but important data, such as payment details and intellectual property, costing a business its reputation as well as money,” added Bennett.

According to Digital ID, the most important security measures small firms need to put in place include cyber security, access control including ID cards and swipes, and barrier gates.

Cyber security protects a company’s intellectual property and restricts hacker access to client data and payment details, whilst ID cards allow a business to monitor the exact number of people that have entered the building. This cab be useful not just for security but also for health and safety reasons or in the case of an emergency exit, such as a fire.

In September last year, a study conducted by management platform Dashlane found that workers themselves contributed to the security worries of small business. Its survey found that 44 per cent of employees could access an old employer’s system via old, unchanged passwords. Almost 70 per cent admitted to not knowing their employers’ policy on sharing passwords.

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Fred Heritage was previously 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.