According to the Government Security Breaches Survey, ¾ of small organisations were threatened by security hacks in recent years, which has been a dramatic increase from the 2013/14 survey.
One firm in particular faced the consequences of a security breach which almost destroyed their entire business. MNH Platinum based in Blackburn fell victim to a virus which corrupted almost 12,000 files. They were forced to pay the criminals almost £3,000 for a return of their stolen data.
Completely unprepared for a cyber breach
Managing director Mark Hindle stated: “We were completely unprepared for a cyber breach simply due to a lack of awareness of the magnitude an attack of this type could have through mistakenly clicking a link in an email. I am thankful that we had a lucky escape in that I was able to retrieve the documents that are crucial to the running of the business, albeit at a price.”
Although many businesses believe these are one-off occurrences, surveys show that criminal acts of this nature are on the rise; targeting small companies who have no way out but to pay up. Sarah Green, an expert in cyber security states that small businesses are constantly in denial that it will never happen to them and is the main reason why so many are targeted.
She said: “Small businesses may feel that they aren’t likely to be a target due to their size and that hackers couldn’t possibly be interested in what they do – but in reality the exact opposite is true.”
Cyber attack victims could be fined
One of the most frightening new regulations is that the companies themselves are being fined for ultimately allowing cyber criminals to hack into their systems. The EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation will be introduced in 2018, with intentions of fining companies up to 20 million euros or 4% of annual profits, for any unlawful access into private databases.
Type of cyber threats include:
• Ransomware - Malicious software can access and often code entire databases, demanding a ransom to return data to its original format.
• Hack attack – Hackers can work their way into the company’s software and gain full access to private databases.
• Human error – Human's themselves can make the mistake of inviting malicious activity, by sending private information to the wrong people.
• CEO fraud – Individuals posing as higher up members of the firm, demanding that payments be made by those who deal with finances.
What can companies do to prevent cyber hacks?
Luckily, small businesses are beginning to understand the dangers of cyber hacks and are putting steps in place to prevent criminals hacking into systems.
To prevent cyber fraud, options to consider may include:
• Random three-word passwords
• Malware software
• Regular software updates
• Security upgrades
• Educating staff on risks
Digital business expert Alex Fenton claims there is absolutely no excuse for leaving systems at risk, stating: “We have seen some high-profile examples where companies have cut corners to save time and money, but the cost of hacking could range from minor inconvenience, reputation damage, loss of customer data, fines and ultimately company closure.”
For more information on how you can protect your business contact us today.