IT boss warns SMEs to take cyber security far more seriously

By Anita Jaynes on November 11, 2015

Cyber crime costs the UK economy £27 billion a year and research has shown three in ten small businesses have been a victim of fraud over the last year.

In the wake of the Talk Talk fiasco – where someone apparently hacked into its website and possibly stole information which could be used for criminal purposes – award-winning IT consultancy Systemagic is offering advice to SMEs worried about cyber attacks.

James Eades, managing director, said: “We clearly see more serious cases in the headlines which potentially affect thousands of people. It’s been claimed this week the Talk Talk affair could cost the company £35m.

“But small businesses are under threat constantly and some don’t even know it. I read with horror a report claiming eight out of ten small business owners believe they’re not at risk from cyber security threats.  In stark contrast, 74% of larger UK businesses are putting internet security at the top of their agenda.”

James, who lives in Trowbridge and works across the county,  believes small businesses are too complacent when it comes to cyber security.  He believes there are three schools of thought among SMEs regarding cyber crime and threats:

* small businesses do not believe their data is of any worth and the threats are all media hype:

“The media tells us the story in many different ways but the heart of the story remains the same – something bad has happened and it could impact on your brand and ultimately on your bottom line,” James said.

* if a small business has paid for antivirus software, the rest is just a ploy to make them spend more money.

“Not paying for cyber security because you pay for anti-virus is like saying you have smoke detectors at home so why do you need an intruder alarm? While antivirus protects against rogue programmes it doesn’t secure your network against intruders,” James said.

* small business owners decided to ‘risk’ it as they are subject to ‘scare tactics’ week in, week out.

James’ general advice is to remember what cyber attackers actually want. He believes, in most cases, a small business’s data is probably worth little to anyone but a closest competitor. However a small business computer system can be worth a lot – as a sanctuary for criminals.

“Cyber criminals want to use your server and internet connection to attack their real target making them far less traceable,” said James.

“More worryingly, if your systems are used as part of a large scale attack, you as a small business owner can be implicated if you haven’t taken adequate steps to secure your network.”

Education, prevention and action are the best solutions according to James.

“It’s no longer just about preventing an attack on your systems, it’s about preparing to survive such an attack in a world where cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and organised.”

James and his team are passionate about helping small businesses to protect themselves, so are offering to have a chat with any business owner who might be worried about their existing security systems. The team can be contacted on 01225 626800 or www.systemagic.co.uk

Pictured above: James Eades, managing director of Systemagic