With 2020 having been a tough year for UK SMEs, business owners need to be especially careful about cybersecurity. With the sudden emergence of Covid-19, a lot of businesses were forced to change the way they conduct their everyday working schedule. Unfortunately, this movement created new opportunities for cybercriminals to take advantage of the challenging situation, leading to an increase in the number of cyber-attacks reported by UK SMEs.
Below we are discussing why UK small and medium enterprises must focus on their cybersecurity systems. Additionally, Astec IT has provided some useful insights into ways to improve the security in your workspace.
1. Remote Working
Due to the pandemic, many businesses worldwide had to change their business structure to enable employees to work from home. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as many businesses have highlighted an improvement in employee productivity and satisfaction. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that working from home can come with an increased security risk to a business. This is because at home employees will not benefit from the layers of protection which is provided on an office network. This can leave company devices vulnerable to compromise, as it is potentially sitting on an unsecured network. Due to the increased security risk, cybercriminals see remote working as an opportunity to run email scams, such as CEO Fraud which specifically target employees that are adjusting to a different work environment.
In 2020, we were able to support all of our clients in the move to a remote business structure. This includes not only ensuring that no downtime occurs and that employees are able to work collaboratively and efficiently, but also making sure all the steps necessary are implemented to protect businesses from cybercriminals. Due to Astec IT’s remote business structure, we are able to tackle remote working concerns from a more personal perspective and our engineers can support employees with insight information from their own experience.
2. Phishing E-Mails
Last year, there were more than 365,000 phishing emails recorded within the UK, in addition to the increase of 350% which was found in the first half of the Coronavirus pandemic. The sudden increase of phishing email scams can be linked back to cybercriminals specifically targeting remote workers.
In order to protect your business from cybercriminals and to avoid Phishing Attacks, it is important to continuously educate staff and train them to notice when something is not right (e.g., spelling mistakes in the email or sender name, etc.) or unusual requests are made. Continuous education and training are aspects Astec IT incorporates in their daily interactions with clients, which leads to a higher level of cybersecurity awareness.
Besides that, as a Sophos Partner, Astec IT limits the number of phishing emails coming in by implementing anti-spoofing and anti-spam filters. Sophos is a high-end security software that creates an easy-to-use innovative protection. Sophos’ endpoint protection has won AV-test award for best usability. Through the use of this software, Astec IT is able to check emails against a database in order to quarantine suspicious activity and prevent users from interacting with phishing emails unknowingly.
Astec IT can empower your staff through training and education sessions, to develop habits, that keep your business safe from vulnerabilities posed by phishing. A recent example is where a client in the investment sector, called us to report the finding of a suspicious email in which a cybercriminal was pretending to be the director of the company – requesting invoice payments and other payment details. Since the staff member was taught how phishing scams work, they noticed a spelling mistake in the email address and notified us immediately. Due to that, we were able to look into this further and block the email as well as IP address, so the cybercriminal will not be able to contact other users.
Similar to phishing emails, Ransomware has been incredibly utilised by cybercriminals during the pandemic. Even though most would assume that they target large organisations, 71% of ransomware attacks are reported by SMEs.
Ransomware can be defined as malicious software that has been designed to block access to a computer system or release private data unless a sum of money is paid. The software can be easily disguised as an attachment or download, once again, targeted at unaware or remote workers.
With remote working likely continuing to be present throughout 2021, it is vital that employees are made aware of the threats so steps can be put in place to protect the business from cybercriminals.
4. Cyber Attacks Are Expensive
Breaches in cybersecurity cost UK based SMEs an average of £3,770 in 2019. Besides that, the cost of recovery and the damage to reputation add up to the costs of a security breach which sometimes are too high to recover from. The Cyber Crime Magazine reported that 60% of small businesses creased trading within 6 months of a cyber breach.
One of the reasons why cybercriminals often target SMEs is due to their lack of investment in a top-tier security solution. With the rising number of cybercrimes present in the UK, SMEs need to ask themselves whether they can afford to not invest in cybersecurity and carry the consequence of a breach.
5. I am a UK SME, What Do I Do Next?
The topic of cybersecurity can be overwhelming, especially for business owners who do not have the spare time to stay up to date with new techniques and best practices. This is when IT support comes really handy as outsourcing your IT will open the door to a multitude of cybersecurity expertise. By working together with our highly trained IT engineers, you will gain the best insights into how to protect your business from internal and external security threats.
By becoming an Astec IT partner you will have access to technical expertise that will assist you with planning a strategy and help your business get ahead of your competition. If you are interested in finding out more about ways Astec IT can support your business and help you stay protected from cybercriminals, contact us now.