SMEs 'risking millions' because of inadequate cyber cover

Businesses in Northern Ireland are putting themselves at risk of cyber attack because they have insufficient protection measures in place
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THOUSANDS of small business in Northern Ireland could be at risk losing millions of pounds each year - simply because they have little or no cyber protection in place within their systems.

One in five SMEs in the north shifted most of their business online during the pandemic, yet 48 per cent of them have reported cyber security breaches or attacks in the past year.

And a UK-wide survey of 1,000 decision makers, commissioned by BT, found that many are relying on security products which are not designed for business use.

The research reveals that 29 per cent of SMEs in the north do not have the right level of cyber protection in place and are relying on security products which are designed to protect consumers rather than businesses.

It also found 4 per cent of local small businesses aren’t using any cyber protection at all, with this figure being even higher (17 per cent) for micro businesses (those with five or fewer employees).

And from this data BT, a leader in cyber security with 3,000 experts across the globe, estimates that thousands of businesses don't have any cyber protection in place and require more support to help keep them safe online.

Paul Murnaghan, regional director for BT’s Enterprise business in Northern Ireland, said: “There has been a huge shift in small firms here moving more of their business online, this can also bring its challenges.

“Any digital business, large or small, can be a target for cyber criminals, and this is something we’ve seen during the pandemic.

“And whilst consumer-grade products are great for protecting you while surfing the web, accessing emails and other personal use, they’re not designed for running a business which requires more robust protection and safeguards.”

He added: “It’s clear that our smallest firms need more support in this area, so today we’re launching new free cyber security tools for our BT business broadband customers, together with free online advice to help upskill small businesses on how to stay safe online.”

He said small businesses can now benefit from free BT Content Control and BT Web Protect included as standard with their BT business broadband, providing built-in protection to keep their business safe online.

BT Content Control works by allowing the customer to configure their web traffic according to the categories they wish to block or allow, while BT Web Protect warns the customer if they are trying to access suspicious URLs which could carry harmful malware.

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