UK SMEs underestimate threat of cyber fraud » SMEInsider

UK SMEs underestimate threat of cyber fraud

82 per cent of Britain’s 4.9 million SMEs mistakenly believe they will not be the target of fraudsters, because they are“too small” or “don’t have anything worth stealing”, a new report from Kaspersky Labs has revealed.

This is despite a separate recent report by the Federation of Small Business which revealed that 41 per cent of small firms were hit by cybercrime in 2013.

The Kaspersky Lab research shows that small businesses are unprepared for a security breach, with a third of not knowing what to do if they had an IT security breach tomorrow. It also revealed that 36 per cent of small business owners manage security themselves, with 28 percent using external IT professionals.

This lack of security awareness is coupled with a growing reliance on new technologies, with two-thirds of companies having internet-connected laptops and half allowing IT-enabled mobile and remote working. Vital business data including confidential customer, supplier and financial records as well as IP is widely stored and processed on computers.

Kirill Slavin, UK managing director at Kaspersky Lab, said: “While it is encouraging to see the extent to which micro firms are embracing the latest technologies, this must go hand-in-hand with a strong approach to internet security.

“Micro firms don’t have to become IT security experts. Most of the time it’s the IT equivalent of remembering to lock all the doors and windows when you go out, make sure you have some additional protection and not to leave valuables where others can easily see and get to them.”

Alex Grant, managing director of fraud prevention at Barclays, said cyber fraud affects one in eight small businesses every year with fraud losses estimated at nearly £20bn.

Typical scams include tricking companies into supplying goods they never receive payment for or paying for goods they never receive.

“Fraud can happen to any type of business in many different ways, impacting their revenue, reputation and the long-term health of the business, with no business being too small to be targeted,” said Grant.

“The most important investment a business can make is to take the time to identify where they may be at risk from fraud and reduce those risks where possible to stay in control,” he said.

In response to the report’s findings, Kaspersky Lab and Barclays bank have teamed up to draft the following guidance for micro-firms:

Your business security five-a-day

Spend just five minutes a day checking the following five things to help keep your business safe

1. Passwords – Check that all internet-enabled devices and computers that carry your business data are protected by strong passwords, regardless of whether the equipment is company or employee-owned.

2. Attachment Awareness – Understand the dangers that can lurk in emails, web-links USB sticks, CDs etc. and consider introducing extra software that will filter out or contain suspicious-looking items.

3. Educate all employees – Make sure everyone knows on how to stay safe online; including how to use strong passwords, spot suspect emails or sites, and protect company information.

4.Back-up – Every day make sure the information you store on computers is backed-up and secure.  Imagine how your business would cope if you had to get through the day without it.

5. Security systems – Take full advantage of any user-friendly internet security software that that has been specially created for small firms such as your own to secure devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, computers, WiFi and networks.  Don’t forget about physical security as well – keep things out of sight and the site locked up.