Small Wiltshire businesses warned to take cyber security more seriously

By Anita Jaynes on 24 October, 2014

The boss of Wiltshire IT specialist Systemagic has warned small business owners to take the risk of cyber attack more seriously.

James Eades is warning small to medium-sized businesses to be aware they are equally at risk of attack as large organisations.

He said: “A recent study has shown 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. So why are small businesses so blasé?”

Systemagic Ltd is a successful company celebrating 15 years in business this year. It has an office in Trowbridge and another in Bath. Its team of experts pride themselves on excellent customer service and an holistic approach to technical support.

The core business is IT support and maintenance for its clients. Customers can also take advantage of the company’s other supporting technical services which include broadband and internet connectivity, cloud services including online back-up and hosted exchange.

The top three reasons James and his team have heard regularly include:

“I’m a small business – my data is worthless, it’s media hype”
 – James said this is probably correct, most data is worthless to anyone but a closest competitor.   Systems, however, are worth a lot.

He said: “Cyber criminals aren’t hacking in to businesses to steal your data, they want to use your server and your internet connection to attack their real target, making them far less traceable.   If your systems are used as part of a large scale attack, you can be implicated if you haven’t taken adequate steps to secure your network.

“I already pay out for antivirus, the rest is just a ploy to make me spend more money”
-  According to James this is like having smoke detectors in a home but no burglar alarm.

James said: “Antivirus protects against rogue programmes, it doesn’t secure your network against intruders.   To prove the point, EU legislation is being introduced next year to force certain industries (financial services, charities initially) to take security seriously.”

“I’ll take my chances, if I bowed to every scare tactic I’d have no time to run my business”
- a common statement which can only be resolved through education and potentially legally risky.

Steps to take to deal with the above risks include:

  • Having a business-grade antivirus – James says AVG Free is not enough.
  • Using file or disc encryption.  This ensures if data is stolen or lost, nobody can access it without the relevant encryption key.
  • Protecting laptops or devices for businesses where staff are often on the move with 2-bit authentication – very common now with internet banking.
  • Maintaining IT systems – ensuring they are up to date with the latest software patches, updates and service packs.   If you run a server and network then your IT provider should be doing this for you.
  • Looking at the firewall –a business-grade firewall creates a barrier between network and the internet.   This might not stop the most clever cyber criminals but it will slow them down, and will stop the bedroom hackers.

James said: “It’s a sorry state of affairs in a world where the internet puts the world at our fingertips we have to take all of these steps to protect our businesses.  But ignoring this stuff could give a competitive edge to those who look after their IT and data.”

Pictured above: James Eades of Systemagic