Franchise The Alternative Board is urging SMEs across the UK to prioritise cyber security over sales this Cyber Monday.
According to government figures, almost 39 per cent of UK businesses reported a cyber-attack in the last 12 months. And while cyber security is treated as high priority by businesses, qualitative research found there is a lack of technical expertise within smaller organisations.*
Known as facilitators, The Alternative Board (TAB) franchisees work with business owners across the UK’s hard working SME sector providing business advisory and coaching services. Working closely with members, facilitators have recognised the growing threat of cybercrime to small businesses and created a Cyber Monday Shopping List for SMEs, as TAB co-owner Ed Reid, explains:
“Our SME members are rightly becoming increasingly concerned about the risks cybercrime poses to their businesses. If cybercrime were a country it would be the 3rd largest economy in the world, behind only the US and China. It is estimated to have cost companies and organisations six trillion dollars last year and is continuing to rise in scale and complexity.
“Cyber-attacks can be financially devastating to small firms and they are also incredibly disruptive and upsetting to employees. However, we know from our numerous expert IT members that combating cybercrime as an SME doesn’t have to break the bank. There are many ways businesses can protect themselves this Cyber Monday and we would urge SMEs to utilise this fantastic free advice to their advantage.”
Cybercrime specialists, Manchester based Linten Technologies and Aberdeen based Nimbus Blue are TAB members who have combined their expertise to support other SMEs. Working with TAB, the expert Information Technology SMEs have created this affordable Cyber Monday Shopping List for their small business peers:
- Use ‘Elevation’ Accounts – By default, you (and your staff) have full control of your computer, meaning that you can add or remove software and change sensitive settings. Whilst this is very convenient, it also means that anyone or anything that gets access to your computer has the same administrative control. An elevation account averts this by creating a secondary login for a computer that has administrative control. If users unexpectedly get prompted to elevate their permissions, treat it with suspicion. Of course, the key thing here is to make sure you don’t use the same password for your primary and elevation accounts!
- Password is not a password! – Not taking password control seriously in your business vastly increases the chances of information getting into the wrong hands (deliberately or accidentally). Storing passwords in spreadsheets on shared drives, allowing staff to save passwords in their browsers or iCloud accounts, and allowing staff to reuse passwords are still commonplace. Use a professional password manager to give every employee a secure vault for storing and managing shared sensitive information such as passwords, documents and digital identities of enterprises.
- Invest in security software – Security software is the first line of defence against cyber-crime. It is highly recommended to install antivirus software on all company devices and for advanced protection, implement a managed firewall. Prices vary greatly but many providers offer free discovery sessions and trials so it’s worth comparing different solutions to see what works best.
- Back up your backups -While you may have strengthened your cyber defences, it’s always best practice to be prepared for the worst in case an attack does occur. To minimise the potential damage of a breach, it is recommended to back everything up in as many ways as possible. By doing so, you will still be able to access data and continue to function even if an attacker does gains access.
- Stay alert! – The rapidly evolving nature of cyber-crime means it is crucial to keep security up to date. Cyber criminals are quick to exploit vulnerabilities in existing software. A managed service provider or IT department should be able to manage and roll out automatic updates to all software and devices across your business. Ensuring your systems are constantly up to date will ensure you are protected against known vulnerabilities.
Further information and support for SMEs concerned about their cyber security can be found at www.thealternativeboard.co.uk.
TAB is a membership model where members, who are owners of private businesses, pay a monthly investment for business advisory and coaching services. Peer to peer business support is central to the success of TAB which harnesses the expertise of SME leaders across the UK to drive each other’s businesses forward.
TAB SME facilitators nurture the growth of local businesses, deriving immense satisfaction by facilitating positive changes in the lives of local business owners. For more information visit Become a TAB Facilitator with a TAB franchise (thealternativeboard.co.uk)