26 Nov 2015 02:53pm

SMEs turn to accountants for cyber help

Small businesses are burying their heads in the sand and failing to deal with the issue of cyber security – even though the growth in mobile connectivity is making them ever more vulnerable to attack

And those that have decided to protect themselves are turning to their accountants or bank managers for advice because they don’t believe they can navigate such an apparently complex and intangible subject.

This has taken the government-backed Cyber Streetwise Forum aback because, as they point out, many smaller accountancy firms are as unprepared about cyber security as the clients seeking their help.

The forum, which includes private sector businesses and organisations such as KPMG, Hewlett Packard, Sky and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), highlights the need for SMEs to take control of their own cyber security and points out that there are simple steps they can take to improve it.

In particular, they can: make their passwords stronger by using three random words; install security software on all devices (including mobile devices); and ensure they always download the latest software updates.

The forum is particularly concerned because research from the FSB indicates that mobile connectivity is “vital” to 70% of small business owners.

“We have seen an increase in malware targeting mobile devices,” says Carla Baker, Symantec’s senior government affairs manager. “However people often don’t transfer their thinking around how they behave on a laptop or computer to how they use their mobile devices.

“Remember that just because you can’t see your data being hacked or malware attacking your machine, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”

Cyber Streetwise is a cross-government awareness initiative run by the Cabinet Office. It offers free online training courses for small businesses and a free cyber security guide.

Julia Irvine


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