11 January 2016 | By Andrzej Kawalec Community

Make cyber security a new year's resolution

Smaller firms can little afford a cyber attack, but there are simple steps they can take to reduce the risk

In 2015, barely a month passed without news of a well-known brand or company suffering a hack and having numbers of customer details stolen. And consumers are beginning to have a far greater understanding of what these data breaches mean to them and their ever-broadening online identity.  

As they become more savvy about the risk they take in sharing their data, the pressure grows on small businesses to step up their cyber defences. These are the companies that can least afford the reputation and financial damage a breach can cause yet, according to the 2015 Information Breaches Survey, 74 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses recorded a cyber attack of some kind last year.

At the recent Cyber Streetwise Forum event, in which experts discussed the security issues facing SMEs, it became clear that small businesses must be more proactive to protect themselves against cyber attacks and make security a core part of their business strategy for 2016.

Unsure of who to turn to for cyber advice (we had reports of accountants being asked), many small business owners ignore the issue until they are forced into action, by either becoming, or knowing, a victim of cyber crime.  

Simple steps

The actions SMEs will need to take are small but make a considerable difference. They can be as simple as clicking the “update” button on software instead of putting it off for later, or avoiding the classic pitfall of using the same password for all devices in a company. It also means applying the same thinking and security practices to all devices, not just PCs, especially in a small business where members of the team work remotely using mobile devices containing business-critical information.

Cyber Streetwise encourages businesses to take three simple and easy-to-implement steps to improve their online security and help protect themselves from cyber crime:  

  • Use secure passwords: make your passwords stronger by using three random words
  • Install antivirus and malware software on all company devices
  • Update software regularly: software updates contain vital security upgrades which help protect your device from the latest malware and hackers

Implementing small but effective changes within your business could make a huge difference in 2016. So make the best use of New Year’s Resolutions this January to start doing these simple yet effective practices and get them firmly embedded into your business’ every day workings; they’ll make a charter of resolutions that everyone in the business can keep to.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is a member of the Cyber Streetwise Forum To apply for the government-backed scheme to provide basic business cybersecurity, Cyber Essentials, visit