IT Support &
Business Software

Perception vs. Reality – IT security for SMEs


When it comes to IT security, the discrepancy between perception and reality is substantial, particularly amongst smaller businesses. In the UK, SMEs account for 99.3% of private sector business and contribute £1.8tn to the economy.

It is not surprising therefore that they are an attractive target for cyber criminals. Despite this, 82% of coit-securitympanies believe they are too small to be targeted by cyber criminals. In reality, 92% of hacking incidents in 2014 related to SMEs.

According to a report by the Federation of Small Businesses, cyber-attacks cost the UK economy around £5.26 billion a year and small businesses are hit hardest. An attack not only means additional costs in restoring your systems and retrieving data, but also potential data loss, reputational damage and risk to your clients’ systems.

So with increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks, how can you protect your business?

IT Security Checklist

As always, prevention is better than cure and we advocate a multi-faceted approach to securing your systems, taking into account your software, hardware, policy and education.

Whilst the list below is not exhaustive, it provides a good starting point:

  • Patch Updates: Microsoft and other software vendors regularly issue patches to secure vulnerabilities, fix bugs and improve features. Ensuring these patch updates are deployed quickly fixes vulnerabilities which may otherwise be exploited by cyber-criminals. Patching is arguably one of the most important aspects of your IT security strategy.
  • Antivirus software: If you are using the internet, email or transferring files, your computer will likely be exposed to malware. Antivirus software helps protect against these threats and whilst there are numerous products available, we recommend Trend Micro. This software offers heightened levels of protection, without affecting user performance or speed.
  • Firewalls: Sitting at the gateway to your systems, firewalls inspect all data passing in and out of your network, identifying and blocking unwanted traffic. Depending on your budget and requirements, the specification of firewalls vary significantly and we are happy to discuss options available.
  • Email: 91% of attacks by sophisticated cybercriminals start through email via phishing or spear-phishing. Attacks are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect with impersonation tactics designed to steal credentials and company data. Cloud solutions, such as Mimecast, offer targeted threat and malware protection, removing threats before they reach your network.
  • Policy: An effective IT Policy will help employees understand what is acceptable practice. Policies should address password privacy and management, regular patch updates, restricted administrator access and guidance on internet and email usage.
  • Education: Raising awareness of IT security will help employees react appropriately when exposed to a threat. In fact, employee education can be one of the most effective ways to enhance your company’s overall IT security strategy.

Cyber security for small businesses will become ever more pressing as the European General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect in May 2018. The new law will see companies fined up to €20m or 4% of their annual turnover, if found to inadequately protect customer data.

Whilst small businesses are starting to appreciate the implications of cyber-attacks, many still have a lot to do to secure their systems. SMEs are a prime target for cyber criminals, not only for their weaker defences but as an attractive route into larger companies with whom they work. Putting steps in place to protect your business now can avoid future reputational damage, data loss, fines and even company closure.


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Professional and extremely helpful. PCR will go above and beyond to resolve any IT problems that you may have.

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