While 2020 will be remembered by most business owners as the year of Covid, another unseen threat has been infecting firms, cyber-attacks. According to a report by Hiscox there were an incredible 65,000 attacks on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) each day in 2020, 4,500 of which were successful. With the average cost of a cyber-attack now thought to be around £11,000 – which costs the UK economy an eye-watering £34bn – this is a problem that no business owner can afford to ignore.
While attacks are becoming more sophisticated the sad truth remains that many attacks are successful as organisations or individuals do something they shouldn’t or didn’t do something they should. It’s estimated that 60% of online attacks could either be foiled or their impact significantly reduced if only businesses took simple precautions, such as:
1. Keep Your Software Updated
Software companies are acutely aware that hackers are constantly trying to find and exploit weak spots in their programmes. What was secure in January can be an open door come May which is why they spend billions providing free updates, and all you need to do is install them when they become available. Yes, it can be inconvenient to have your machine rendered unusable while updates are installed, but that’s nothing compared to the horror of an infected system. Remember the NHS WannaCry crisis of 2017? That was caused by them using out of date software and it cost billions to put right and put lives at risk
2. Don’t Treat USB Ports as Charging Points
The internet of things (IoT) is revolutionising the way we live and work. From doorbells that can act as online burglar alarms to mobile phones that double up as wallets, sound systems and shopping malls, the IoT has connected us like never before. And you know what, hackers LOVE this. Many of the devices being given online connectivity are about as difficult to access as a park and if you use your laptop to charge them you can be opening the door to your system
3. Be Careful with Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi is an amazing invention. It saves your data allowance and can massively speed up your connection. Unsecured Wi-Fi networks are to be treated with caution, however. Your device will almost certainly warn you that its unsecured and with good reason; the data you send and the data you receive can be read as easily as a postcard. Equally be careful who you offer your Wi-Fi to. While offering customers access is convenient, it represents another threat unless properly protected
4. Get onto The Cloud
One of the hackers’ favourite ruses these days is ransomware – software that locks you out of your system and data until you pay a ransom. If you back up your data to your own servers then this could be a disaster. If you have it stored in the cloud by one of the tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft or Google, not only are the chances of a breach massively reduced but you’ll also have a back-up that you can access instantly
5. Educate Your Staff
Your staff can be a hackers’ best friend. Be it someone innocently opening an unfamiliar email, downloading an attachment or a disgruntled former employee getting up to mischief, your team can lead to your business’s downfall. Shockingly only 33% of UK SMEs have provided any cybersecurity training according to the Cyber Readiness Institute. Give them some training, ensure your systems are robust, that passwords are regular changed and if people do leave then have their access revoked. Simple steps, but valuable ones.
Cyber Attacks On Small Businesses – The Worst Is Yet To Come?
Cyber-attacks are something that UK small businesses are going to have learn to protect themselves from. While 2020 has been the worst year to date, the tide is rising and rising fast. Hiscox’s recent study shows cybercrime is on the up with 55% of UK firms having reported an attempted cyber-attack in 2019 and that small business attacks rose by 14%. With more firms switching to remote working in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, so hackers’ have an increasing array of potential weaknesses to exploit.
Cyber Insurance: Your Last Line of Defence
While prevention is always better than cure, having a cyber insurance policy in place makes a lot of sense. All businesses are susceptible to violation these days. Over the last few years, we’ve seen how even large corporation can fall afoul of online criminals. Adobe, LinkedIn, eBay, and Yahoo! have all had their systems breached and data stolen and if it can happen to these tech giants it can happen to anyone. The loss of personal data – something every business from hair salons to builders now holds and processes – is being taken increasingly seriously. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) can, and will, levy significant fines if they find businesses have failed to take necessary precautions. These, plus the estimated £11,000 cost of the average attack, mean these breaches can have business-closing consequences.
Considering this growing threat, taking out a cyber insurance policy makes good business sense. A cyber insurance policy through Coversure is affordable and can offer you protection against threats such as:
• Ransomware – cyber extortion insurance can cover you for any ransom money you are forced to pay
• Hacker damage – for repairs to your digital property, e.g. websites, databases, and repair/rebuilding of any security protocols
• Data loss – covering the costs of professional data retrieval
• Business interruption – offering recompense for any loss of earnings and/or reputational damage following an attack
• Legal cover – should your data loss result in legal action under the Data Protection Act
• Contamination of another’s system – I.T. systems rarely work in isolation these days and viruses, malware and ransomware can be spread through email, web, and FTP connections – often without you even knowing. Should you inadvertently become the source of another’s network breach, cyber insurance will cover you for any ensuing legal action
• I.T. consultancy service fees – that may be required to restore your network’s integrity
Like Some Cyber Insurance Help?
If you’d like some more help with protecting your business from the menace of cyber-attack or would like a cyber insurance quote, then please contact your local Coversure office. They’ll be only too happy to give you the benefit of their advice and to help you protect your business from the online bad guys.