Cyber security strategy needed as firms grow

A friend of mine told me about a recent conversation she had with her five-year-old daughter. The young girl had read the word ‘fax’ on a business card and thought the ‘a’ was a mistake and the word should be ‘fix’. My friend relayed how she struggled to explain what a fax was to her daughter, but was also surprised a fax number would still appear on a business card in 2023!

Communication really has come a long way and while we no longer have to contend with double checking a document has been received with a follow up call, digital communications present challenges of their own.

For example, a recent story that Liverpool accommodation providers are being warned they are at high risk of data threats due to the number of people expected to descend on the city for Eurovision in May, illustrates the growing perils of digital data.

Cyber security is now a big priority for businesses. And it should be, if it isn’t already, regardless of whether you lead a corporate firm or are a sole practitioner. According to the most recent Cyber Security Breaches Survey, nearly 40 per cent of businesses identified a security breach in the last 12 months and nearly 50 percent of that group say they are attacked at least monthly.

If this is a new area for you, start with simple tasks. These could include installing a password manager, using two-factor verification and ensuring passwords are hard to guess. Signing up to a course is a good way to understand the specific threats posed to your industry and business.

And for businesses dealing with large amounts of data, a formal verification process may be a worthwhile consideration. You may even qualify for the government’s Funded Cyber Essentials Programme, if and when it opens again. Then, of course, it is worth thinking about what you would do, if you were hacked – do you have a policy in place?

We can take this a step further to look at business continuity more generally. Do you have policies in place for what to do if your premises is hit by extreme weather? If energy bills continue to soar, at what point does this become problematic for your business?

If a crisis happened, how would you deal with this from a communications perspective? Are you in a position to issue a press release quickly? Do you have the expertise to know how to tackle it on social media?

We all hope we never have to deal with these things, but we all will in some way. And these risks and threats could have a detrimental impact on your business, regardless of how strong sales are.

Over the past few years, businesses have learned to become resilient in a whole new way with the pandemic, its aftermath and now the cost of living crisis.

For the most part, resilience has been about survival. This month, there have been positive noises from the government with pledges to boost business growth and investment for Yorkshire. As growth becomes the focus, ensuring your systems and processes are robust enough to deal with the threats outlined, is a worthwhile exercise and could save you time and money in the long run.

This article was first published in the Business Section of the Yorkshire Post on 29th March 2023.

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