Cyber Crime and small businesses – Is this going to happen to you ?

Short Answer

Yes the government thinks one in four small businesses will be successfully attacked this year. It will cost you a fortune and could cripple your business.

Long Answer

Ransomware is one of many cyber security threats faced by your business. It is a virus which you typically catch by opening an email- it encrypts your business computer network. Initially you notice a slow response to keystrokes and after a short while your system just stops working. Then you get a message asking for payment to unlock/unfreeze your system. The payment might be £800 or it might be £3000. Or more.

In the meantime your staff are sitting around unable to go about their routine -no invoices can be generated, no suppliers paid, no payroll, no VAT returns filed. Business pretty much at a standstill. And if you pay the criminals there is every chance you wont get your system unlocked and there is every chance you will get hit again. That’s before you consider reputational damage arising from being seen to have poor IT security. And you may need to replace your computer and re input lost data. On the plus side your office might only be out of commission for a few days.

Ransomeware is just one form of cybercrime which is actively being aimed at small businesses. The government reckons one in four businesses will succumb to some form of cybercrime this year. Theft of data due to weak security is a huge problem which is much misunderstood by SMEs. Your client details may not appear to have value to you but if that data includes partial card payment or personal or sensitive information which can be matched up with data hacked from a second source then those clients could become victims of fraud or blackmail.

As a small business you have a responsibility to keep personal data secure and you clearly would do well to protect yourself against the various threats. Hackers can be organized gangs, bored teenagers, disaffected staff, terrorists or malign interests based anywhere in the world and you may be attacked at random or specifically targeted.

What to do ?

The Government has set up a scheme called Cyber Essentials which encourages small businesses to attain a recognized standard of IT security. When you attain the standard you are inherently more secure and aware of the issues. In addition you hold a badge which tells your suppliers and clients and your insurers that you take IT security seriously. If you are tendering for work with the MOD you will require Cyber Essentials and it is likely to be rolled out into other public tenders soon. The UK government is so concerned about the detrimental effect of cyber crime that they may use legislation before long to ensure businesses become more secure.

Vouchers to cover Cost of Cyber Essentials

The Scottish Government is promoting Cyber Essentials to small businesses through the provision of Cyber Resilience Vouchers (worth up to £1500) which for many businesses will cover the full cost of consultation and assessment. Application forms for the vouchers are available from Paul Foley at Scottish Enterprise. The vouchers must be used with licensed suppliers to ensure that the you obtain good quality appropriate advice before going through the formal assessment. The work in attaining Cyber Essentials is not time consuming or too technical. Suppliers are listed on the IASME website.

To check eligibility and apply for a voucher, contact Paul Foley on 0141 242 8404 or email
Time is of the essence as there ids a finite number of vouchers. They are given out first come first served and the vouchers must be redeemed by the end of March 2017.

Cyber Essentials Website here

Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce
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