Cybersecurity is critical for businesses big and small
By Chris Sims, Managing Director, Small and Medium Business
As a critical national infrastructure (CNI) provider, ensuring our networks are protected is essential for keeping the nation up and running. In the wider context of a tense geopolitical situation and technology changing at a rapid pace, as recently highlighted by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), large organisations like BT are placing more emphasis on security than ever.
We have a vast number of security protections in place to ensure we don’t fall foul of cyber-attacks, but many smaller organisations feel they don’t have the time or resources to place a major focus on cybersecurity. The NCSC is taking clear steps to tackle this with their free tools as part of the Cyber Aware campaign, which BT is proud to support.
All companies are at risk
There is a common misconception that cybercriminals only target big companies where they can secure the greatest impact, and therefore the highest reward. But the reality is that they often go for the easier targets. It’s much more lucrative for them to carry out simpler, quicker and less risky successful attacks against small companies, than it is to try and take on a multinational company with a dedicated security team. And while a major cyber-attack for a big company can have significant reputational and financial impacts, it can cause catastrophic damage for small businesses.
With limited resources, it’s only natural that SMEs want to keep their focus firmly on growing their business. But it’s important they get the basic security protocols right, as failing to do so leaves them open to huge risks. For example, small businesses can reduce the threat of malware, ransomware, and a variety of other cyber threats by ensuring they have antivirus protection in place for all systems and devices, secure back-up of data and regular patching across systems and platforms.
It may seem obvious, but failing to keep passwords secure (or even sharing them) is still the downfall of many businesses when it comes to cyber safety. Security technologies are often undone by human error, which remains the origin of most cyber-attacks. The most visible example of this is phishing, where attackers attempt to trick users into handing over personal data, downloading malware, or directing them to a dangerous website. It’s critical that small businesses have the correct training in place, making sure that all employees know the basics and having clear processes and responsibility for reporting security issues.
On the network front, there are other fundamentals that can help protect SMEs. They should use business-grade WiFi with built-in security and protection as standard. It’s not just computers but phones, tablets and any other smart devices connected to the internet that need to be secured – and a basic part of this is installing all updates from the manufacturer to ensure every piece of kit has the right protection.
The value of partnerships
Working closely with industry and government partners like the NCSC is a critical part of how BT ensures we have the latest intelligence on cybersecurity threats and trends. With the information they share with us, we can continually assess our IT estate and supply chain for vulnerabilities, whilst making sure that all our employees uphold security best practice.
While NCSC offer this level of support for us as a CNI operator with operations across 180 countries, they also offer targeted guidance and tools for smaller companies. Their recently launched Cyber Aware campaign includes a checklist that helps small businesses elevate their online security. It advises businesses on boosting their email security through using stronger passwords and turning on 2-Step Verification. It gives further advice on enhancing security through backing up data and ensuring security updates are downloaded promptly. Businesses can also access their own free, tailored Cyber Action Plan if they complete a short questionnaire around their security protocols, and use the new Check Your Cyber Security tool, which instantly checks for vulnerabilities in web browsers and IP addresses.
We’re calling on small businesses to take advantage of these free services from the NCSC, as well as their broader advice for SMEs, as they can play a critical role in ensuring you’re protecting your business and yourself against the potentially devastating impact of cyber-attacks.
Security is at the heart of everything we do at BT. We know how critical our networks are for the UK, and the repercussions that a cyber-attack could have on consumers, businesses and critical services. That's why apply best-in-class protections across our entire network, to ensure every service we provide is as secure as possible.
Organisations who are keen to find out more about how BT secures its business customers can also visit here