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How fraud and cyber security threats can threaten your business

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How fraud and cyber security threats can threaten your business

Reviewed: 20th May 2018

According to the government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017, 46% of businesses in the UK experienced at least one breach of cyber security during the previous 12 months.¹ Although larger businesses appear to be most at risk, the report points out that smaller and micro businesses are also exposed to the threat.

In fact, 19% of businesses whose senior managers believed cyber security was “very low priority” suffered a breach during the 12 month period prior to the survey – a significant figure at almost two in every ten.

What types of fraud or security breach might you experience?

Fraudulent emails are typically the most common source of a breach. When staff click on a link in an email they might be directed to a fraudulent website, for example, or by opening an attachment they can cause malware, viruses, spyware, or ransomware to be downloaded onto the system.

A hacker or fraudster impersonating someone else, whether via a phone call or email communication, is another common cause of security breach. The fraudsters generally present themselves very convincingly, and if members of staff aren’t aware of this method, or aren’t sufficiently vigilant, the consequences can be devastating for a business.

The value of all business data becomes apparent when you consider the threat of a ransomware attack in particular. This is a type of computer virus that threatens to destroy your data and files if you don’t pay the ransom demanded.

How could a breach of cyber security affect your business?

It’s not only a physical loss of money that can affect a business that’s been the target of a cyber attack or fraud. Other consequences often include:

  • Loss of reputation among customers or clients, and within the larger community
  • Temporary lack of access to important files and data
  • Time lost to recovering/securing systems and data 
  • Loss of custom during this time, and also in the longer-term due to the breach
  • Cash flow issues if additional resources are needed to get back on track operationally
  • Fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
  • Loss of intellectual property or trade secrets

What can you do to protect your business from fraud and cyber attack?

Staff training

It’s clear that staff awareness is a vital element in protecting your business from fraudsters. If you and your staff understand how the business might be attacked, it reduces your exposure to risk, although human error remains a factor. Regular cyber security training is important, therefore, to maintaining a strong first line of defence against cyber attacks and fraud, and remaining up-to-date with new threats.

Antivirus and anti-malware software

Installing robust antivirus and anti-malware software on all your devices, and setting them to automatically update, will provide protection against hackers. You should check the security settings for all your programmes, as by default they may be set to a lower security level than you would like.

Securing your internet connection

Your internet connection can be a weak point that hackers target, so it’s important to protect it with a firewall. Additionally, this should be installed on all the devices using your system, including phones and tablets.

Using strong passwords and two-factor authentication

The use of strong passwords that are regularly changed can foil attempts to breach your system. Two-factor authentication (2FA) also provides an extra level of security, by linking your mobile phone to the login process.

Controlling access to important data

You can help to prevent in-house attacks by members of staff by setting levels of access and permissions, depending on their responsibilities and seniority.

Addressing the issue of cyber security with Cyber Essentials

Cyber Essentials is an initiative backed by the government to help businesses protect themselves from fraud and cyber attacks. This programme provides a checklist of actions that should be taken, and will enable you to tackle the issue on a more strategic level.

Your business can become certified with Cyber Essentials, instilling greater confidence in everyone you deal with that you understand the issues and have taken positive action to address them.

For more information on Cyber Essentials certification, and cyber security in general, call one of our experts at Real Business Rescue. With 72 offices stretching from Inverness down to Exeter, Real Business Rescue can offer unparalleled director advice across the UK.

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