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A guide to small business cyber security

Business cyber security is serious for SMEs. Get the basics right with this how-to guide.

Nearly half of businesses reported a cyber security breach or attack in the last twelve months. The implications of these figures are very serious: to put it simply, the vast majority of small businesses are not suitably prepared for online attacks. So this guide is all about small business cyber security, and how you can make sure you are well protected.

Why is cyber security so important?

Cyber security is an all-too-common threat for modern businesses, and its consequences are severe. Serious breaches, according to a PwC survey, can cost a small firm between £65,000 and £115,000. In other words, serious breaches can shut your business down.

Cyber attacks typically involve data and identity theft, and can put your staff or customers at risk. Losing customer data can have far-reaching consequences – and can give your business a reputation that’s hard to shake off.

So, with more business being done online every year, cyber security is something that’s worth your time, money and effort.

How to make your business cyber secure

Getting small business cyber security right comes down to two key areas: security policies and security software.


Even for the smallest business, having clear cyber security policies in place is a smart move. Include guidance on creating strong passwords that include numbers and letters, and make sure everyone changes their passwords regularly. This is especially important for anyone that updates content on your website. It’s also wise to prevent employees from sharing passwords.

It’s also worth outlining some guidance on best practice. Ensure email attachments are only opened from reliable sources and that the web is used responsibly. And also, find a way of monitoring network access, and keep an eye on the use of memory sticks or other plug-in devices, which can inadvertently damage or steal company information.


There’s a huge variety of software options out there, and prices vary widely. But there are a few basic things you must get, whatever package or product you choose:

  • Antivirus software, which prevents, detects and removes viruses, trojan horses, and all kinds of malicious software
  • Antispam software, which controls and detects spam that could contain code or links to hacker websites
  • Antiphising software, that identifies hacker attempts through emails or websites to obtain sensitive information

And one often overlooked tip should take precedence over all others: always download software updates. It might mean restarting your computer, and that can be annoying, but those updates include vital security upgrades that keep your business safe.

For more advice on cyber security, check out the government’s detailed advice for small businesses.

Not all business broadband providers will help you with online security, but with many of XLN’s broadband packages online security is included for free.


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