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Could cyber security be the final line of defence for SMES

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by Startacus Admin

Could cyber security be the final line of defence for SMES in these turbulent times? Sarah Knowles, senior security consultant at Nexor, highlights the measures you could have in place.

While many companies will have switched to complete remote operations and embraced the change and adapted to what is a new way of working and living, some will have neglected the very basics of security. Sadly, this neglect for some could spell big trouble and a cyber attack could devastate a business in what is a very turbulent time for SMEs.

Sarah Knowles, senior security consultant at Nexorexplains the measures you should have in place and the steps you should be taking to protect your business and why cyber security is so important right now

Cyber security is a crucial component of business sustainability and protection, without it we leave ourselves open to attack and manipulation from ‘threat actors’. We are currently living in uncertain times, and while many SMEs up and down the country have successfully managed the transition to remote working, others have faced understandable challenges from being forced to quickly adapt without any prior warning. 

Some have had to find last-minute solutions to operating remotely and for many their security will not have been ready for such a change. It’s likely that many companies have ‘left the door ajar’ for cyber criminals to move in. 

Research by the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre) has revealed a big increase in phishing attacks targeted at businesses during the ongoing pandemic, while according to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey: 2020, 46 per cent of businesses overall have identified breaches or attacks in the last year. The survey details that the most common type of cyber attacks are phishing attacks, going on to make the following statement: 

“Staff receiving fraudulent emails or being directed to fraudulent websites. This is followed, to a much lesser extent, by impersonation and then viruses or other malware. One of the consistent lessons across this series of surveys has been the importance of staff vigilance, given that the vast majority of breaches and attacks being identified are ones that will come via them.”

No-one is immune to the threat - cyber criminals have recently imitated the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Center For Diseases Control (CDC) and the UK Government, by creating false domains and text messages requesting passwords and financial contributions.

Now, with many more companies operating remotely due to the pandemic, some businesses that aren’t configured to remote working could find themselves at a risk - a report released earlier this month revealed a ‘mad scramble’ as firms prepped security for remote working. There are a lot of security elements that should be considered, like having the right system configuration or having security patches installed. Is your anti-virus software up-to-date and connected to the corporate network? These are the questions that need asking.

So, what can you do now to help your own organisation in terms of structure and training? First, you need to implement a safe structure that takes into consideration your individual cyber security risks:

  • Educate the leadership team

  • Adopt a top-down approach

  • Ensure you have cyber security representation at the leadership level within your organisation

  • Introduce a "no-blame" culture – more important for incidents to be reported than ignored

  • Empower staff to be able to report issues they are concerned about

  • Don’t make cyber security into a blocker – any controls implemented should not cause staff difficulties which in turn would lead them to seek a workaround and bypass controls

Cyber security is an investment in your business and its future, without solid security in place you are risking the company, its assets and the people that rely on it.

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Published on: 28th July 2020

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