Cybercrime is a fast-growing concern in today’s world; with many small and medium sized businesses, right at centre stage as hackers turn heir eye away from the bulked-up corporations to the ease SMEs provide. Most SMEs consider themselves too small to be noticed or hacked, after all, why target a ten-employee shop when there is money to be made at the major bank down the street? This thinking has led to SMEs being some of the most vulnerable networks around, and the number of attacks on them is increasing rapidly.

SMEs must make themselves aware that cyber-crime is a relevant threat and cybersecurity is a required solution. Not only does a company lose time or data when a cyber-attack occurs, suffer the long-reaching consequences of a tarnished reputation, with consumer confidence dropping. For SMEs, this can be disastrous, as the cost of recovering from a cyber-attack is not always easily funded. All too often has an SME suffered from a cyber-crime and shuttered its doors due to financial losses.

To begin cyber awareness, an SME can start by evaluating what information it processes, stores, and sends. Is this highly sensitive information? Does it run the risk of ever being exposed due to malicious intent? Categorise what needs to be secured, and document it. Learn what you have, its value, and that will assist in the selection of encryption and security mechanisms.

SSL certification, coupled with a regularly updated certificate authority is a worthy investment for a SME, especially if they conduct online business. Securing online transactions, from financial to simple email or name collection goes a long way in keeping an SME out of harm’s way. With countless websites spoofed and injected daily, taking steps to secure an area as simple as a website is a great place to start.

No amount of encryption, firewall standards, or password changes will stop an infection if a user wants to click on a random link in their email. As the weakest link in any security policy, users must be made aware of their role in keeping information secure. Data can be compromised quickly from so much as accessing the wrong site, or sending an important attached via email, with an outdated security certificate. Routinely train the people in a SME, they are integral to cyber-awareness, with the power to make or break a business.

As the technological infrastructure changes, as more and more information goes online, so too must how cybersecurity is addressed. SMEs need to take the first steps in educating themselves on what is out there and how they are to protect themselves. Adopting a security policy with network and system controls in place, such as encryption standards, password rules, and employee access are all very simple yet effective measures a small to medium sized business can take. With the rampant use of hacking, the cost of not having security for a business will only get high, and its consequences far reaching.