A guide to cyber security for small businesses

There’s been some high-profile cyber attacks on businesses in recent years, leading to damaging loss of business and public confidence. A ransomware attack on a major postal service provider led to the suspension of international deliveries, which hit small businesses particularly hard. Some businesses report damage to their reputations, with a fall in sales of as much as 40% in some cases.*

As expected, IT security is a hot topic on the business agenda. Large corporations are spending millions on securing and protecting data, but what about small businesses? Surely, they don’t need to worry about cyber threats and data security breaches, do they? Well, they should, and here’s why:

  • In 2022, 38% of small businesses suffered a cyber breach or attack.

  • The average cost for those that lost data or assets was £81,701.

  • Every 11 seconds, a business receives a ransomware attack. 71% of these attacks are on small and medium-sized businesses.

  • By 2030, it’s predicted to be every 2 seconds.

Don’t get too alarmed though. There are some simple, smart steps you can put in place to protect your business and they won’t cost you a lot to implement.

Why is your IT more vulnerable than ever?

Every business, whether large or small, increasingly relies on digital technology and communications. Stock, customers, suppliers and other vital business information are all stored as digital data, and this makes it vulnerable to hackers and criminals.

Furthermore, the pandemic led to more and more of us working away from the office, using more mobile devices and adopting hybrid working practices. This led to many businesses investing in new tech and communications platforms, and cyber criminals saw their opportunity, meaning phishing and ransomware became more common and increasingly costly. 31% of businesses have seen an increase in cyber attacks since the UK’s first lockdown in March 2020.

How can you meet the threat now and prepare for the future?

The time to protect your business is now. Be proactive and don’t wait until you’ve experienced a cyber attack before acting, because that could cost you heavily in lost business, money and worry.

The good news is that there are a range of technologies and smart business practices that can help secure data. It doesn’t need to be complex, and you don’t need to be a technology expert to implement them. There are options to suit every budget, no matter the size. Getting the right technology in place means you can secure your business and make it future-ready.

Protect your data

Remember that as a business owner, you have regulatory obligations to keep your data secure, whether it’s data on customers or employees. This becomes more complex though when you and your employees are accessing and sending data from outside the office.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects that data from being compromised or stolen by encrypting the data while it’s transferred. It gives you secure access to all your business data wherever you are, as well as making sure you can’t be tracked or identified on the web.

Secure your software

Running your business on mobile devices may be liberating, but it can also expose you to risk. The apps that you, or your employees used to run on premises are now being used on home laptops, personal mobile phones and tablets.

Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based solution that allows you to share and collaborate remotely with excellent online security. You can tailor sharing permissions for your entire team or when sharing documents with customers, and software is automatically updated so you are constantly protected against the latest threats and malware.

Secure your devices

Mobile Device Management (MDM) can protect all your devices, whether you are using personal devices, business ones or both.

Some networks (including Vodafone) have security built into the network that protects against phishing and malware. This allows you to access sensitive business information while working remotely, as well as install and update software. This means you spend less time worrying about protecting your business and more time focusing on your customers.

Protect your people

As a small business, it’s likely that you or your employees spend time alone on site or out on deliveries. A Lone Worker Protection system is well worth considering. This offers body cameras, alarms and panic buttons from their mobile devices and is connected to a 24-hour central monitoring service. Your workers can work safely knowing they are protected, and you can keep track of their location in real-time, receiving instant alerts if an incident occurs.

Above all, stay vigilant

Cyber security is one of the biggest threats to any business, so it’s important to be constantly vigilant. As shown by recent events, cyber attacks can do real damage to a company's confidence and bottom line. Make sure all your employees are aware of the threats, set up an IT safety policy, and educate your people about the best security practices and why they’re needed to keep the business safe.

One of the great things about being a small, agile business is the relationships you build up with customers and employees. They trust you to protect their data and it’s important that you keep that trust.

Stay secure with Vodafone Business. Our wide range of cyber security solutions can help to safeguard your digital assets, so you can focus on what matters most. Additionally, if you'd like to learn more about how to keep your business safe, visit our knowledge centre to gain insight and support on how to stay cyber resilient.

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