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Innovate UK’s Essential Guide to Cyber Security for Startups & SMEs

Cyber crime is costing UK businesses an estimated £30 billion every year and the figure is rising.

Cyber breaches can have devastating effects, and could even kill off your business.

Here's our essential guide to cyber security for start-ups and SME's.

Tip 1 – Identify all possible threats

You need to know how secure your systems are before implementing any additional measures. A cyber security audit will help you understand where you are now, as well as identifying any threats that are specific to your business – both external and internal.

Make sure you’re aware of the latest cyber threats and keep your operating systems up to date, as the latest software patches often contain important security fixes.

Tip 2 – Make cyber security a business priority

After carrying out your risk assessment, formulate a clear risk management policy and communicate it to your staff, management, contractors and suppliers.

Ensure the protection of any data shared with a third party and protect data from unauthorised access, modification or deletion. Make sure suppliers and contractors are aware of, and will comply with, your security policy, and that any shared network connections do not introduce unmanaged vulnerabilities that could affect the security of your network.

Employees play a vital role in protecting your organisation’s security. Explain the threats you have identified, and let your employees know what you are doing to mitigate risks. It’s your responsibility to create and communicate the security rules, and to provide the technology that will enable them to do their job as well as help keep the organisation secure. Support them with an awareness programme and training that establishes a security-conscious culture.

Tip 3 – Leverage existing schemes

Concerned about where to start? Adhering to the 5 controls recommended in the government-backed Cyber Essentials scheme could prevent up to 80% of all cyber attacks.

Cyber Essentials is designed to help SMEs guard against the most common cyber attacks with an online self-help guide that covers securing your internet connection, securing devices and software, controlling access to your data and services, protecting from viruses and other malware, and keeping your devices and software up to date.

Tip 4 – Assume you’ll be hacked

Every organisation is a potential victim of cyber attack. So rather than waiting for evidence that you are being, or will be, targeted by specific threats, it is safer to assume that you will be hacked sooner or later.

It’s important to have a policy in place for dealing with a cyber attack – how will your business manage a temporary period of down-time? Are you backing up your business-critical systems and information? How safe is your customer data?

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