Small businesses aren’t prepared for cyber-attacks

Financial services companies underestimate the risk posed by cyber-attacks. If they don’t invest, they aren’t safe

Many small financial services businesses do not have adequate defences against cyber-attacks. This is despite the fact that the majority of consumers say they would not use a company that had suffered a cybersecurity breach

The UK Government’s Cyber Streetwise campaign and KPMG have released their Small Business Reputation and the Cyber Risk report, which urges smaller businesses in the financial services sector to appreciate the reputational damage cyber-attacks can cause.

“Small businesses know that their reputation is critical to their success but it seems that many haven’t considered quite how many factors can affect it”, said George Quigley, a partner in KPMG’s cybersecurity practice. “Every piece of data in a business can be of interest to a cyber criminal – even if the business itself may not realise it – and with SMEs a key target for this very reason, it’s vital to take steps to protect your data, and with it the trust of your customers and ultimately your reputation.”

Small financial services companies do not understand the value of the data they hold

According to the report, 58 percent of consumers surveyed said a cybersecurity breach would put them off using the affected business in the future.

“A cyber-attack may prove so serious that it impairs an organisation’s ability to operate and even function longer term”, said Danny Lawrence, the National Police Chiefs’ Council PROTECT Co-ordinator for Cyber Crime [sic]. “Doing nothing can no longer be an option – SMEs place their reputation and existence on the line if they fail to take action.

“I would encourage all SMEs to consider their cybersecurity, seek out support from resources available and consider making this piece of work a critical part of their business strategies in 2016.”

One explanation for so many small financial services companies failing to recognise the reputational risk posed by a cyber breach is that they do not understand the value of the data they hold. In fact, up to 30 percent of companies surveyed in the report said they did not consider the data they held on their systems to be commercially sensitive.

“Small businesses need simple, straightforward cybersecurity advice like that provided by Cyber Streetwise”, said Sandra Dexter, Vice-Chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses. “All small firms should now be aware of the risks, and take steps to protect themselves against the escalating level of cybercrime.

“Cyber breaches can happen to any business, any size, and the repercussions should not be underestimated… [They can lead] to damaged reputations, hindered growth and, in the worst cases, entrepreneurs being put out of business.”

The Cyber Streetwise campaign is urging small businesses and consumers to install security software on all their devices and update them on a regular basis. It also recommends they improve the strength of existing passwords by including at least three random words.

Visit to learn more about the simple ways to stay cyber-secure.