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Navigating cybersecurity challenges in 2024: Essential strategies for SME businesses – London Business News |



Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK face increasingly complex cybersecurity issues. Cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated and pervasive, and there’s a growing need for effective protection measures.

As a business owner, it’s important that you’re aware of the potential risks. Whether you’ve recently launched a startup or you’ve been running a successful company for years, you’ll need to know how to safeguard sensitive data and maintain regulatory compliance.

Here are some ways to improve your current security setup.

Understanding cyber threat levels in 2024

We’re seeing increasingly sophisticated and targeted attacks. Cybercriminals are using advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to develop advanced malware and phishing schemes. Ransomware attacks have also become more frequent and destructive, often targeting critical infrastructure and small businesses alike.

The rise of remote work has added a level of vulnerability too. It presents opportunities for files to be accessed by hackers and SMEs are at risk of seeing breaches through unsecured home networks and personal devices.

Phishing remains a challenge too, with attackers using increasingly convincing tactics to trick employees into revealing sensitive information. Supply chain attacks have also surged, where cybercriminals target weaker links within a company’s supply chain to gain access to larger networks.

Risk assessment and management

You’ll need a risk management process in place. Identify the assets most critical to the business, such as customer data, intellectual property, and financial information. From there, evaluate the potential risks and consider the likelihood of an attack and the potential impact on your business.

Encrypting sensitive data, establishing access controls to limit who can access certain information, and regularly updating software to patch vulnerabilities can all help to reduce risk levels. If things do go wrong, introduce an incident response plan that outlines the steps to take in the event of a cyber incident, so that you can recover quickly.

Robust security protocols

Introduce cybersecurity safeguards for your IT systems. Key technologies that are likely to help include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and antivirus software. These tools provide a first line of defence against cyberattacks, detecting and blocking malicious activity before it can cause harm.

Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security. Users must provide two or more verification factors to gain access to a system.

Encryption should also be used to protect sensitive data and regularly backing up data is also essential.

Training your team

Give your staff the knowledge they need to identify and respond to cyberthreats. This essential for an effective cybersecurity strategy.

Invest in regular training and awareness programmes to educate employees about common cyberthreats and best practices for staying safe online. This training should cover how to recognise phishing emails, the importance of strong passwords, and the proper handling of sensitive information.

Regular audits

Regular audits help identify vulnerabilities and ensure that security measures are functioning properly. These should cover all aspects of your IT infrastructure, from network security to software applications.

Compliance with relevant regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is also crucial. SMEs like yours must stay up to date with regulatory requirements and ensure security practices meet these standards.

Understanding the threats is crucial to develop an effective cybersecurity strategy. Take the steps to secure your business and look at ways to protect sensitive data.

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