This article was published in Mail on Sunday - Financial Mail, Enterprise
By: Helen Loveless
Small business owners looking to cut costs are being warned against leaving their firm at risk of security breaches.
Updating anti-virus and anti-spyware software, using encrypted technology and protecting confidential information such as customers' bank details are all vital as fraudsters are increasingly taking advantage of economic confusion and anxiety to target businesses and consumers, experts say.
Research from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform shows that the average cost of a severe breach of security for small businesses is £10,000 to £20,000. If news of such breaches leaks out, the damage to the reputation of the business could cost much more.
Despite a number of high profile cases where organisations, including the police, Woolworths and High Street banks including HBOS, have lost or dumped confidential data, putting customers at risk of fraud, there is a concern many firms are still not doing enough.
Robert Guice of Shred-it, an international recycling and shredding company says:
"With all businesses under pressure to reduce costs, many are overlooking the importance of protecting their confidential information and that of their customers – unaware of the hidden costs that can result from data breaches"
Matthew Thompson is company secretary of CF Roberts, an electrical contractor in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, with a second office in Hereford.
In response to the downturn, Matthew, in his early forties, says he has dropped pay awards and cut back on staff overtime.
But one area he has focused on is secure data management – both in the computer network and when disposing of confidential information.
Following an audit by a new customer looking to check that the firm protected confidential client information, the firm signed up to a secure shredding service with Shred-it.
Matthew says: "We take security very seriously. We have three layers of firewalls and all documentation is shredded."