If it seems all quiet on the security front of your business, you should be reacting in a way that seems illogical. You should take this silence as a warning bell.
A 2020 ICO report has highlighted that there are a shocking 700 data breaches to UK councils every single year - and that more, unrecognised by staff, are likely going unreported.
You may read this and go - oh well, my business isn't on the same level as a council. None of this could possibly apply to me.
That's where you're wrong.
Councils and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) are far more alike than you may think. Both are unlikely to have big budgets for technology, which makes handling IT a significant source of stress and strain. And both, as towns and cities become further interconnected and more services go digital face an increased risk of cyber attacks.
In a world where the London Underground strives to have full 4G connectivity come 2024 digital technologies are always on, meaning pressure to keep them secure is on too. For businesses, like councils, who face a catastrophic rise in cyber crime due to the pandemic, securing their systems for 2021 must be a priority.
Disjointed and under-resourced are words the ICO report uses to describe cyber security across local UK governments. If that sounds familiar, your business, like these councils is likely in a vulnerable position - in charge of a whole host of valuable personal data, and totally unprepared for cyber attacks.
This unpreparedness can lead to dangerous situations. The report highlights incidents where cyber criminals have been inside councils internal systems mining data for up to a shocking 300 days before being discovered.
The solution to this? A security-first mindset. The report found, when councils invest in training their staff on identifying cybersecurity issues - reports of them skyrocketed.
The focus for these councils became prevention, ergo avoiding any costly fallout in the first place over post-breach damage control. By investing time and effort into protecting their systems and staff, these councils were able to better cope with and even prevent further cyber security risks.
There's no reason why your business wouldn't benefit from doing the same. Especially when this report spells out an important lesson for anyone handling sensitive data: do not underestimate the risks. Do not let peace and quiet lull you into a false sense of security, because it’s that very security that ironically, will make your data insecure.
The fallout of a serious data breach can be colossal, impacting the revenue and daily operations of your business in addition to damaging your integrity, brand image and relationship with clients. Cyber security is so much more than a firewall, antivirus and telling staff to be more careful. Now, more than ever, SMEs need to invest in training their staff to recognise threats, as part of a coherent, effective cyber security plan.
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