Heads in the sand: small businesses convinced a cyber-attack will never happen to them

18 Jul 2014
Business News, Press Releases

One in three micro-firms helpless in the face of cybercrime

Small businesses in the UK are woefully unprepared for an IT security breach despite relying increasingly on mobile devices and storing critical information on computers, according to new study by Kaspersky Lab. A third (31 per cent) says they would not know what to do if they had an IT security breach tomorrow, four in ten say they would struggle to recover all data lost and a quarter admit they would be unable to recover any. Most small firms are convinced a cyber-attack would simply never happen to them.

The study , of micro firms from hairdressers and builders to doctors’ surgeries and legal firms, found that two-thirds (68 per cent) have internet-connected laptops and half allow IT-enabled mobile and remote working. Vital business data including confidential customer, supplier and financial records as well as IP is stored and processed on computers.

An overwhelming 82 per cent say they are not a target for attack because they’re too small or don’t have anything worth stealing. However, the threat to smaller firms is significant and real. According to the Federation of Small Business , 41 per cent of small firms were hit by cybercrime in 2013, with one in ten the victim of online fraud and one in five affected by a computer virus.

“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,” said Kirill Slavin, UK MD at Kaspersky Lab. “One in ten of those surveyed admitted that an IT security breach would probably cost them their business. This must be addressed, and quickly. 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.”

“Cyber-fraud affects one in eight small businesses every year with fraud losses to SMEs estimated at nearly £20bn. Criminals try to steal goods and the business identity through letters, a phone call, or via email. Increasingly, cybercrime is a principal priority risk for businesses. Typical scams include opportunities to acquire new customers who you supply but never receive payment from, or to purchase items from new suppliers that never deliver after having been paid. 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. 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,” commented Alex Grant, Barclays, Managing Director of Fraud Prevention.

Kaspersky Lab and Barclays Bank have drafted 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.

To respond to the very latest online threats and keep small firms safe Kaspersky Lab has upgraded and enhanced its popular Kaspersky Small Office Security solution. For more information, visit www.kaspersky.co.uk.