Cyber attacks: Small businesses ‘particularly at risk’

Small businesses are particularly at risk from cyber attacks because they do not – or cannot – spend enough on defences and often run old software, experts have warned.

A report by Juniper Research found that the average SME will spend less than $4,000 (£3,130) on cyber security this year, despite recent high-profile attacks.

This is despite the fact that cyber attacks and data breaches are set to cost businesses $8 trillion (£6.2 trillion) over the next five years. The researchers forecasted that 2.8 billion personal records will be stolen by hackers in 2017, before an increase to five billion in 2020.

The study’s authors warned that campaigns like the WannaCrypt ransomware incident, which affected many NHS trusts and other organisations, had not prompted action.

They said that ransomware attacks will continue to increase because cyber criminals can launch them relatively easily, with little technical knowledge, and for large rewards.

“The attacks on hospital infrastructure show that inadequate cyber security can now cost lives as well as money,” said research author James Moar.

“Businesses of all sizes need to find the time and budget to upgrade and secure their systems, or lose the ability to perform their jobs safely, or at all.”

In the aftermath of the recent WannaCrypt ransomware campaign, which encrypted data belonging to businesses across the world and demanded money for its return, SME Magazine offered tips to protect your company against the threat.

Although no method of defence is 100 per cent reliable, running an up-to-date security solution and ensuring that your computers’ operating systems and software are fully patched can go a long way to protect your SME against the most common threats.

It is also important to keep a backup of your business’s important data, so it is not lost if the worst should happen. Above all, firms are advised not to pay hackers’ ransoms, as it encourages future cyber crime and does not guarantee the return of your data.

For more from the report, see the Juniper Research website.

Matt Smith | @MattCASmith