Small businesses are a prime target for unscrupulous hackers. Here’s why… 

The national news features stories of BIG security breaches – large corporations that have had their data stolen / systems damaged (think back to Yahoo admitting that 3 BILLION user accounts had been compromised…). 

News features focussed on small businesses being hacked do not make the headlines, and in some ways, this makes them a bigger target – because they have their guard down. 

And, en masse, there are rich pickings to be had from small organisations and even sole traders.  

Larger organisations will have whole departments dedicated to protecting the IT security interests of a business. Policies will be in place, servers locked down, software and hardware up to date, and staff training plans in place (or at least this is what should be happening in large organisations). 

It’s tougher for small businesses. We understand the dilemmas faced. Where IT security is not part of the core business, small organisations won’t necessarily have an IT specialist. They’ll rely on an individual to manage security as part, but not all, of their day job. Each team member will have a range of functions and fitting IT into their day can prove tricky. 

We’re here to tell you that whilst IT security may not be high on your agenda, it needs to be. However small your business is, YOU are a TARGET! 

An example was recently recounted to us by a sole trader. He realised that his PC had been compromised when his password didn’t work. Because he didn’t have an effective password policy in place, he’d repeatedly used the same password across several platforms, all of which were then targeted by criminals. He had his work cut out, changing all his passwords as quickly as possible in an act of damage limitation. It was him against the hackers – not a comfortable place to be. 

A UK Government survey carried out in 2018 found that just 51% of small businesses had basic cyber security controls in place. It also found that a whopping 43% of businesses had reported security breaches within the last year (and how many more went unreported???). 

So, we hope you can see that size really doesn’t matter for a criminal intent on illicit gains. In some ways, the smaller the better. The smaller the business, the less protected they’ll be, the less processes will be in place and the easier it will be to infiltrate systems.  

The advantage of being part of a small business is that change is relatively straightforward to implement. Everything does not have to be signed off in triplicate! Policies can be introduced by word of mouth to the entire team in one go – no risk of Chinese whispers. One person can be assigned to manage security as part of their role – no complicated processes are required. And smaller businesses tend to be tighter knit, with team members possessing a strong sense of loyalty and dedication to success. 

Whilst the thought of an IT security breach can appear nightmarish to a small business it need not prove to be an absolute nightmare to implement. For more information on how to keep your small business secure, contact Net Primates.

Published November 2019