As the number of small businesses operating in the UK grows, so does the importance of being online when it comes to survival and growth in a competitive environment. Over half of all small businesses in the UK now have a website, and the way in which they are using their digital platform is evolving. According to the 2016 Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index, the largest growth areas in regards to digital application were making payments, taking orders or making sales online.
All these efforts to ‘go digital’ are certainly paying off, with 65% of small businesses using digital to reduce their costs and the most digitally-savvy businesses twice as likely to report an increase in turnover than the least digital.
However, along with reaping the rewards, business owners should also be stepping up their cybersecurity to ensure that being online optimises opportunity rather than hampering or damaging it. The risks are larger than some realise, especially if customer bank account details and payments for purchases are the end goal of any traffic that is driven to an SME’s website.
According to Government statistics, 65% of large firms detected a breach or attack in the past year, with 25% of these breaches occurring at least once a month. You need only read the news to see the repercussions of a breach: the data breach at TalkTalk in October 2015 left the records of 157,000 people at risk, while the Tesco Bank breach in November 2016 saw suspicious activity in around 40,000 accounts and 9,000 customers having money swiped, costing Tesco £2.5m.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking only large firms are the target of hackers. Recent research by Symantec shows that 1 in 40 small businesses is at risk of being the victim of cybercrime. There has also been a sharp rise in the number of cyberattacks on small businesses in recent years, jumping from 18% of small businesses experiencing an attack in 2011 to 43% in 2015. An attack can cripple a small business, not merely financially but also through irreparable damage to reputation and customer trust.
So, how to stay safe online? The Government has released various resources to help guide people to better protect their business, which Nominet has used to create a guide to cybersecurity specifically for small businesses and sole traders. As a vital service provider for the UK’s internet infrastructure, Nominet is acutely aware of the risks of cyberattacks and has always invested time and resources into keeping our systems safe and secure. It is important to encourage others, especially small businesses, to do the same.
This guide offers simple steps, such as staff training, monitoring security incidents and choosing the right Cloud provider to help keep a business’ data safe. It provides advice on supply chains, identifying points of vulnerability and collecting data to constantly refine practices and thus offer sustainable security – the hackers are always working to get in so we need to be just as tenacious to keep them out!
No business is too small to be a target. Don’t let your time, money and effort be wasted by leaving your business vulnerable to attack.