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Why all SMEs are at risk from cyber crime

cyber crime

From the TalkTalk customer data attack in October 2015, to hackers accessing White House systems in 2014, the biggest attacks make the boldest headlines in the press. But don’t be fooled.  It’s not just big corporate businesses and governments that are falling victim to cyber crime. SMEs provide rich pickings too.

SMEs tend not to have as much cyber protection as enterprise organisations, so they, their customers and suppliers, are highly vulnerable to hackers who simply want to exploit the supply chain to get to bigger or more valuable targets. Hackers also know that staff in SME companies are likely to be untrained in what to watch out for. For example, an inadvertent mistake of opening an email attachment can infect your entire systems in a few moments making them inoperable.

What are the most common types of cyber-attacks?

According to recent research by the Federation of Small Business, cyber criminals launch over 7 million attacks against businesses every year, costing the UK economy an estimated £5.26bn.

The research also found the following types of attack were both common and costly:

  • Mandate Fraud
    By claiming to be an organisation you make regular payments to, criminals get SMEs to change direct debit, standing order or bank transfer details so that money is sent to the wrong place. By the time the error is uncovered, the funds are long gone. In the past year there have been 2,323 reported cases, a jump of 66% on the previous 12 months.
  • CEO fraud, whaling attacks or business email compromise
    An authorisation email is sent by criminals pretending to be a senior manager and the employee is tricked into making a payment, thinking they are acting under orders from above.
  • Extortion through ransomware
    A company’s files, or its entire network, are frozen and made inaccessible by ransomware. A ransom is demanded to unlock the files or network and to allow the firm to start trading normally again and minimise its downtime.  Hackers are not daft; they don’t demand stupid money, but just enough so that you are more likely to pay even though it severely damages your profits. Please don’t pay, as they will simply come back for more. Have a plan for having all your files constantly backed up so you can close infected machines instantly.
  • Corporate employee fraud
    Past or present staff use credit cards, network login details, or digital files to make illicit financial gains. Inside jobs are as much a threat as attacks from third parties.

How do I protect my business from cyber crime?

Cyber crime is just another kind of theft, but it is growing at an alarming pace. But cyber criminals are lazy too and will move on if they find it too difficult to steal from you. Businesses of all sizes must therefore implement measures to deter them. Educating staff about the real threat of cyber crime is vital, as is having the right technology to lock the door on your systems.

MRIB can help arrange the right kind of Cyber Insurance to give you the peace of mind that your business is covered should a member of staff be negligent or your security systems fail.

If you want to find out more about the cyber threats faced by your business and how we could help then please contact us or call 01494 450011.


About the cyber security expert

peter security dialogue cropped Peter Walker is the commercial director at Security Dialog Ltd ( a service company dedicated to keeping you, your business, your stakeholders and your customers free from the devastating consequences of a cyber-attack. They provide a low cost, pay as you go monitoring service which seeks unusual behaviours and events on your system, and reports them instantly, and in some cases can provide instant remediation. To learn more, or for technical and training advice, please contact Peter Walker (