Government Urges SMEs To Be 'Cyber Streetwise'

Small Businesses Across The UK Must Be More Careful In Avoiding Breaches, According To The Government

13.01.2014

Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

The government has unveiled a new campaign to get small businesses to be more aware of their cyber security needs.

Currently, ministers believe that SMEs aren't doing enough to protect themselves from online breaches - something that could lead to a loss of income or even the closure of a business.

Indeed, research has previously found that 54 per cent of risk managers at companies across the UK believe that poor cyber security is a "key concern" from their business, but despite these findings, which were published in a 2013 report from ACE, small companies still aren't taking these issues seriously.

To try and resolve this problem, which experts say is common in the private sector, the Cyber Streetwise campaign will broadcast a number of TV, online and radio adverts in order to highlight the benefits of setting strong passwords and taking care of posting too much information on social networks.

Recent research conducted by Ipsos for Microsoft found that of 10,000 US companies surveyed on the subject of social networking, some 51 per cent of SMEs used these platforms to improve the image of their business.

Despite this, some 66 per cent said that they had serious concerns about the efficacy of their online security systems and did not want to expand their Twitter or Facebook presence for this reason.

Speaking to the BBC, Gary Fairley, cyber and digital lead at the Scottish Business Resilience Centre, said: "There has been a shift in cyber criminals' attention towards SMEs in the last year or so and it's important that businesses take the threat seriously."

"Getting the basics right is the most important step and will protect businesses against the majority of known threats."

UK security minister James Brokenshire agreed with Mr Fairley and added: "The internet has radically changed the way we work ... but with these opportunities there are also threats."

SMEs are not the only firms affected by cyber breaches. Large corporations like LinkedIn, Sony and Target have all been hit by hackers in recent years.

Expert Opinion
Entrepreneurs and start-ups have a huge number of issues to consider when launching ventures, but one issue which simply cannot be ignored is the issue of IT and online security.

"Compliance with data regulations is a key aspect of running a successful operation and the consequences of failing to meet responsibilities should not be ignored. Losing vital data on operations or clients can have a massive impact, for example.

"We would urge SMEs to always consult legal advisers regarding the key responsibilities they have, which includes regulations related to data protection. The right advice could play a huge role in ensuring their businesses are on the right track."
Steven Beahan, Partner