Cyber attacks are hitting the headlines more than ever, but cyber security isn’t always a top priority for small business owners. The Cyber Streetwise campaign aims to change this.

The cross-government campaign aims to help small business owners prevent cyber breaches crippling their company.

Data from the Government’s 2015 Information Breaches Survey shows that in the past year, 74% of small businesses had an information security breach, compared to 60% in the year before. The worst of the cyber breaches can cost SMEs anywhere from £75,000 to £311,000.

It’s not just money that businesses will lose either. There’s the loss of time spent having to fix the website and any systems which were compromised, not to mention the potential loss of customers. Most small businesses take on a vast amount of their customers’ data, often without realising just how much: from email addresses and phone numbers to payment details and more. If this data is stolen and used to scam your customers, it will mean a substantial hit to your reputation which can take a long time to recover from.

The great news is that SMEs do not need to invest lots of time, money or resources to stay protected from hackers and malicious software. The campaign encourages small businesses across the UK to take three simple steps to help improve their online security:

1. Use three random words to create a strong password

Hackers can use your email to gain access to all your personal and business accounts. Combine three random words to make a strong password and make it a lot trickier for hackers to find their way in. Numbers and symbols can still be used if needed; however, using three random words is the key to creating a strong password. Your most important accounts are your email and online banking; you should also use separate passwords for your business and home accounts.

Never use any word which is related to you and may be easy to guess, for example by looking at your social media pages. It is vital to never use your pet’s name, family members’ names, favourite holiday, place of birth or anything related to your favourite sports team.

2. Install security software on all devices

Your computers, tablets and smartphones can easily become infected by malware (malicious software designed to damage or disrupt IT systems). Installing internet security software like antivirus helps protect your devices from hackers, viruses and other malicious software.  And don’t believe the myth that this only applies to PC users. Apple Macs and Linux computers need antivirus software too.

3. Always download the latest software updates

They may appear at inconvenient times, but don’t ignore those little messages reminding you to download software updates. Software updates contain vital security upgrades which help protect your device from malware and hackers. Clicking on that little cross or ‘remind me later’ means you’re opening the door for hackers to come in and take whatever they please. And if you don’t think you have anything worth stealing, think again. Cyber criminals can profit from anything from your email contacts to financial records and other business critical information stored on databases.
So, small business owners: follow these simple steps to make it much harder for cyber criminals to access your data, keeping your business, employees and customers more secure. For more information visit: https://www.cyberstreetwise.com/