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View from North East Scotland Chairman: Time to take Cyber Resilience seriously

Seven million cyber-crimes are committed against UK small businesses every year, with victims paying an average of £3,000 to repair the damage, writes Regional Chairman Graham Bradley. Now is the time to act and protect yourself, your business and your reputation.

The recent global cyber-attack that affected NHS computer systems so badly is a stark reminder of what can happen when your IT system is attacked.  This can range from losing important data forever, to being held to ransom for its recovery. There is also the potential damage to reputation, customer base and future opportunities to grow; over 80 per cent of consumers would buy more online from small businesses if they were better at showing how well protected they are from cyber-crime and 92 per cent would avoid a small company that hadn’t protected itself adequately.

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is just an issue for large public sector organisations:  I’ve heard from members locally who have lost thousands of pounds. Cyber-criminals are increasingly attacking small businesses, because they are viewed as a softer target than big firms who may have dedicated staff, strategies and departments to deal with cyber security.  Business owners are now paying attention and want to know more, so something positive has come from the global hack.

Thankfully there’s a great deal of help out there from a variety of agencies. The Scottish Government are in the throes of finalising an action plan to boost cyber resilience across all sectors. The Scottish Business Resilience Centre have a lot of information on their website ranging from general advice to attack specific alerts and advice, they host a series of events to back this up as well. The UK Government have a Cyber Essentials scheme that addresses IT systems security and comes with a badge to display showing that your business takes cyber-crime seriously - this may well be the direction of travel for those wishing to win public sector work.

I’m especially pleased to see that members’ feedback has resulted in the creation of FSB’s Cyber Protection service. Business Essentials members get a telephone and online data and cyber security advice service, plus £10,000 of insurance cover for third party claims as a right of membership.

Small businesses are often seen as easy or soft targets for cyber-criminals and the result can be devastating. Act now to protect yourself and your business.