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Cyber attacks could be fatal

Adrian Key, from Flex IT, said research had shown that a quarter of all businesses had detected at least one cyber security breach in the last year alone.

"The most common issues were viruses, spyware or malware, which affected 68% of businesses, and also breaches involving impersonation of the organisation.  With online technology now at the heart of almost every business, there is the potential that any breach of your IT systems could actually ruin your business and bring it to its knees."

Adrian said the Government had launched an industry-backed scheme - Cyber Essentials - to help businesses protect themselves from common internet based threats.

"The guidance is aimed at small businesses and recommends two initial ways that firms should tackle cyber security - getting the basics right, and adopting a risk management approach."

He said as a first step, businesses should ensure they implement some simple yet effective rules.

"Make sure you download software and app updates as soon as they appear, and use stronger passwords to protect your accounts.

"Always delete suspicious emails, particularly requests for information or messages asking you to click on a link. Install anti-virus software on all your devices, including mobile phones, and train your staff in how to recognise cyber security threats and how to deal with them."

Adrian said companies should also consider a risk management approach to their online security.

"Start by understanding the risks and consider what is at stake if you were to fall victim to a breach - money and IT equipment, information (from client details to trade secrets), and even your reputation.

"Think about how your business would continue to operate if your systems were attacked, and implement security controls to protect your equipment, information, IT systems and outsouces IT services, ensuring your staff are fully aware of their responsibilities.  Regularly review the effectiveness of your procedures and keep up-to-date with the latest threats.

"It really could be disastrous for your business if cyber criminals decide to target your IT systems, so it pays to take sensible precautions that could make all the difference if you are attacked."

Flex IT's Adrian Key