Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United Kingdom are targets of frequent cyberattacks. According to a report by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), UK SMEs face more than 10,000 cyberattacks every day. UK SMEs regularly fall victim to attacks ranging from phishing, malware, and ransomware. Malicious phishing emails claim the highest number of victims while ransomware attacks are the most financially damaging.
The shift to home working during the pandemic has led to a rise in cyberattacks targeting UK SMEs. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has forced most employers to implement a work from home policy to eliminate the spread of the virus. Many people who are working from home have not applied the same security on their home networks that would be in place at a work environment, and cybercriminals are taking advantage of that fact.
Cyberattacks Facing UK SMEs
A cyberattack can have devastating effects on small businesses. Cyberattacks cost UK businesses an estimated £4.5bn every year, with individual attacks setting back UK SMEs £1,300 on average. Cyberattacks are expensive, and that’s why UK SMEs need to take adequate measures to reduce the risk of a successful attack. To effectively defend themselves, businesses need to be familiar with the wide range of cyberthreats out there. Here are the most common cyberattacks facing UK SMEs.
Phishing attacks targeting small businesses and their employees have increased significantly in 2020, mostly due to the novel coronavirus. Typically, phishing emails contain attachments or links to malicious websites that look legitimate. Attackers are sending coronavirus-themed phishing emails with the aim of obtaining sensitive information about a business or an individual.
Ransomware is a type of malware designed to lock the files on your computer causing the entire system to freeze. A ransomware attack holds your system hostage until a ransom is paid. Ransomware attacks have increased in the UK since the onset of the pandemic. Working from home creates cybersecurity gaps which attackers can use to launch a ransomware attack.
Data breaches are a major cybersecurity concern for UK SMEs, especially during the pandemic. Cybercriminals are capitalizing on the fear, uncertainty, and the need for Covid-19 information to steal sensitive information. The majority of data breaches utilize social engineering attacks such as phishing and credential theft to compromise business data.
How UK SMEs can Increase Protection
UK SMEs have seen a surge in cyberattacks since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Cybercriminals thrive in situations of fear and chaos, which is exactly what Covid-19 has created. Whether it’s ransomware, phishing, or data breaches, a cyberattack is almost inevitable for small businesses in the UK, especially during Covid-19. Therefore, UK SMEs need to take heed of these statistics and respond accordingly. Here are some steps you can take to increase protection.
Human error is one of the leading causes of cybersecurity incidents. Ensuring sufficient cybersecurity training and education for employees is essential. For instance, employees are constantly targeted with phishing emails by cybercriminals. Phishing contributes to more than 90% of cyberattacks against small businesses and training employees to identify phishing emails can go a long way towards ensuring safety.
Deploy Robust Antivirus and Firewall Tools
Having a variety of cybersecurity tools in your arsenal is crucial when it comes to maximizing your business’s network security and preventing intrusion. Deploying security tools will keep threats such as malware from entering your computer system. Installing robust antivirus and firewall tools on all work computers and networks will fortify your defence and prevent cybercriminals from gaining access.
Encrypt Your Data
Encryption is a simple, effective yet often overlooked method of securing data. Encrypting your data reduces the overall cost of a data breach. Even if hackers manage to steal customer data or any other valuable information from a business, properly encrypted data will be useless to them. They will not be able to sell or use it against your business.
Protect Your Wi-Fi Connections
Unsecured Wi-Fi connections carry numerous security risks. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) will protect your connection from malicious threat actors lurking on the internet. Encourage your employees to download a VPN when working from home to ensure protection against snooping or cyberattacks on public and unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Perform Regular Software Updates
When it comes to cybersecurity, keeping your software up to date is imperative. Gaps in software updates can make computing devices vulnerable to hacking attempts. Ensure that your employees update their work computers regularly to prevent attacks. Operating systems, apps, and firmware should always be up to date.
Recent reports indicate that small and medium-sized businesses in the UK are at a real risk of cyberattack at any given moment. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, many small businesses are moving their work-forces en-mass to remote working, which delivers additional security challenges to UK SMEs. Taking these relatively straightforward security measures can help mitigate common security risks facing UK SMEs.