Small businesses represent 99.3% of all private businesses in the UK, and a report says they have a responsibility to their customers and communities

A report released today by Business in the Community (BITC) says that small businesses need to be part of the solution to prevent cyber security issues from impacting customers in the UK.

According to the report, 40% of small businesses had not taken any action on cyber security in the past 12 months, while a third admitted to not having any cyber security strategies in place at all.

But most worriyingly, more than three quarters (77%) of small businesses said they have no policy for controlling access to their data systems.

According to the City of London Police’s Action Fraud department,more than 2,000 cyber crimes were reported by businesses in 2018, affecting thousands of customers.

Small business influence

Small businesses represent 99.3% of all private businesses in the UK, according to a government report. BITC says they have a responsibility to their customers and the supply chains in which they operate to handle data safely and securely so that consumers are not victims of data leaks and fraudulent activity.

Stephen Worrall, managing director at HSB Engineering Insurance, said: “We have seen an increase in small businesses being targeted by cyber-criminals in recent years.

“Security system gaps can leave small businesses vulnerable to cyber-attacks without them realising, which when exploited can result in small businesses becoming victims of a data breach and potentially causing significant disruptions to their business and onward supply chain.”

BITC, The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, is urging small businesses to assess how vulnerable they are to cybercrime this week and make improvements to their current levels of protection.

“Communities suffer”

Amanda Mackenzie OBE, chief executive of BITC said: “While it’s often big companies which hit the headlines as victims of digital crime, when a small business is struck by a cyber attack decades of hard work can be erased in moments.

“The business owners suffer. The supply chains suffer. Most of all - communities suffer.”

Cyber breaches or attacks can cost businesses up to £8,000 to recover from, but there are some simple steps small businesses can take to become more robust.

Clare Gardiner, National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) director of engagement, said: “Cyber security breaches can have a huge impact on businesses, and the NCSC has published a Small Business Guide to offer the best advice possible to potential victims.

“While we appreciate that cyber security might seem daunting, the NCSC is committed to helping organisations protect themselves against the majority of threats.

“BITC’s Would You Be Ready? campaign is based on our range of easy to implement advice that could save time, money and even your business’ reputation.”

BITC’s top tips for small businesses to improve their cyber security:

  • Train your employees: Staff need regular cyber security training to ensure their cyber awareness knowledge is up-to-date and help them to work safely online. They need to know what to look for to prevent an attack and the immediate steps to follow should an attack occur.
  • Back up your data: Identify what data you need to back up and make backing up part of your everyday business. Keep your backup separate from your computer (e.g. Cloud storage).
  • Protect your organisation from viruses and malware: Install and turn on antivirus software and ensure all your software is updated as soon as ‘patches’ are released.