Call for SMEs to improve cyber security

A research group has warned that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to change their cyber security habits fast in the aftermath of the recent NHS ransomware attacks.

Juniper Research has said that SMEs are growing increasingly vulnerable to hackers and cyber-criminals, and that many small businesses are failing to invest enough time and money in keeping software up to date or backing up their files.

In a recent survey, the group found that the average SME will spend less than £3,130 on cyber security this year, despite recent high-profile attacks and numerous reports suggesting that cyber-criminals are turning their attention to small, vulnerable targets.

Juniper Research says that cyber-attacks and ransomware attacks – such as the notorious ‘WannaCrypt’ campaign which hit the NHS in May – are growing increasingly common in the UK.

Its research estimates that data breaches and cyber-crime will cost businesses and individuals somewhere in the region of £6.2 trillion this year, while as many as 2.8 billion personal records will be stolen by hackers in 2017 alone.

By 2020, the group estimates that as many as five billion personal records will be stolen by hackers.

Commenting on the study, James Moar, of Juniper Research, said: “The attacks on NHS hospital infrastructure show that inadequate cyber security can now cost lives as well as money.

“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.”

The group warns that no method of defence offers 100 per cent protection from cyber-crime.

However, it says that running up-to-date virus and security software can often make all the difference.

It adds that businesses hit by ransomware attacks should not ‘pay up’ – as doing so encourages future cyber-crime and does not guarantee the return of hacker-encrypted data.