Research shows despite 66% of  small  businesses being affected directly by cyber crime, only two thirds  of small businesses consider cyber crime a serious risk to their business operations.  These stats are alarming, especially considering that small businesses are most susceptible to this type of crime as systems and processes may not be as sophisticated as they are for larger companies.  Here we provide top tips for small businesses to protect from cyber crime and ensure data protection.

What is cyber crime?

Small businesses are susceptible to various types of cyber crime.  The first being ransomware and other types of malware – such as viruses, spyware, Trojans and worms.  These are the type of viruses that can infect devices directly and steal valuable information, and frequently without a person knowing till it is too late.

Small businesses are also susceptible to other types of cyber crime, which is the fastest growing area of crime globally, including phishing and spear phishing emails, whaling, and “card not present” fraud.

‘Invoice frauds’ are becoming increasingly common in the small business sector. This is where a business email account is illegitimately accessed and used to send, or modify, customer invoices with altered payment details. Such crimes often cause thousands of pounds of lost revenue and are often very successful.

So let’s take a look and see what simple steps you can do as a small business owner that won’t cost you a penny whilst protecting your business from cyber attack.

Passwords

We are all aware of the importance of having a strong and random password but understandably, considering an individual must memorise numerous passwords for both business and personal use, it is by no means unusual for a businesses to have weak passwords exposing them to cyber attack.  Only 25% of small business have a ‘strong’ password policy in place.

Putting in place a strong password policy in your business, across all employees, means you can easily protect yourself from cyber attack with very little effort and no cost to you.

Software

Another simple and free way to protect your business data and reduce the risk of contracting malware on your business’ devices is to ensure software on all devices are kept up to date with the latest updates, which although can be frustrating when a reminder pops up mid-work flow, means that your device is always updated with the latest security patches which your software provider provides as standard.

We would also strongly recommend you back-up business data where you can, for example working and storing data on the cloud, so that if you are the victim of a cyber attack you still have access to your data.  This is also a good suggestion and safeguard in case an accident at your work premise, such as a fire or flood, or in the unlikely event of a natural disaster, you know that you and  your clients’ data is safe and recoverable.

Awareness

Do you discuss the threat of cyber crime in your small business with your staff or peers? By raising awareness of the risk associated with cyber security and promoting vigilance business wide, you are using your best form of defence from cyber attackers.  You and your staff are the first line of defence against cyber crime, and a simple action, like not opening a suspicious email attachment, could save you from a cyber attack.

If you need guidance on cyber security or you don’t know where to start, your first stop should be the National Cyber Security Centre website and  their Twitter feed to ensure you stay up to date with the latest advice.

We can help

Please don’t take risks – ensure you’re following the best expert advice and also have specialist cyber insurance in place.

We are an accounting company in London and Edinburgh who are tax accountants for the self-employed and offer accountant services for small business. You can contact us for a tailored solution to your unique business circumstances.

Whether you are an individual, freelancer, contractor or you run a small business, we can help to minimise your tax burden with our tax planning and tax advice services. That way, you can ensure you are only paying what you should be and nothing more.

We strongly recommend you speak with a tax and accounting specialist like Mirandus Accountants, who can provide expert advice for your business and personal tax planning needs.