Small Business Guide: Cyber Security

Written by National Cyber Security Centre

How to improve cyber security within your organisation – quickly, easily and at low cost.

Cyber security needn’t be a daunting challenge for small business owners. Following the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) five quick and easy steps outlined in the guide below could save time, money and even your business’ reputation. The NCSC guide can’t guarantee protection from all types of cyber-attack, but the steps outlined below can significantly reduce the chances of your business becoming a victim of cybercrime.

If you want to improve your cyber security further, then you can also seek certification under the NCSC Cyber Essentials scheme, which has the benefit of demonstrating to your clients (or prospective clients) that you take the protection of their data seriously. The NCSC website also has numerous free tools and more in-depth guidance, including videos and the Small Business infographic.

The NCSC has provided the material in this guide. For more information please visit:

Step 1 – Backing up your data

Think about how much you rely on your business-critical data, such as customer details, quotes, orders, and payment details. Now imagine how long you would be able to operate without them.

All businesses, regardless of size, should take regular backups of their important data, and make sure that these backups are recent and can be restored. By doing this, you’re ensuring your business can still function following the impact of flood, fire, physical damage or theft. Furthermore, if you have backups of your data that you can quickly recover, you can’t be blackmailed by ransomware attacks.

  • Tip 1: Identify what data you need to back up
  • Tip 2: Keep your backup separate from your computer
  • Tip 3: Consider the cloud
  • Tip 4: Read the NCSC cloud security guidance
  • Tip 5: Make backing up part of your everyday business

Step 2 – Protecting your organisation from malware

Malicious software (also known as ‘malware’) is software or web content that can harm your organisation, such as the recent WannaCry outbreak. The most well-known form of malware is viruses, which are self-copying programs that infect legitimate software.

  • Tip 1: Install (and turn on) antivirus software
  • Tip 2: Prevent staff from downloading dodgy apps
  • Tip 3: Keep all your IT equipment up to date (patching)
  • Tip 4: Control how USB drives (and memory cards) can be used
  • Tip 5: Switch on your firewall

Step 3 – Keeping your smartphones (and tablets) safe

Mobile technology is now an essential part of modern business, with more of our data being stored on tablets and smartphones. What’s more, these devices are now as powerful as traditional computers, and because they often leave the safety of the office (and home), they need even more protection than ‘desktop’ equipment.

  • Tip 1: Switch on password protection
  • Tip 2: Make sure lost or stolen devices can be tracked, locked or wiped
  • Tip 3: Keep your device up to date
  • Tip 4: Keep your apps up to date
  • Tip 5: Don’t connect to unknown Wi-Fi Hotspots

Step 4 – Using passwords to protect your data

Your laptops, computers, tablets and smartphones will contain a lot of your own business-critical data, the personal information of your customers, and also details of the online accounts that you access. It is essential that this data is available to you, but not available to unauthorised users.

Passwords – when implemented correctly – are a free, easy and effective way to prevent unauthorised users accessing your devices.

  • Tip 1: Make sure you switch on password protection
  • Tip 2: Use two-factor authentication for ‘important’ accounts
  • Tip 3: Avoid using predictable passwords
  • Tip 4: Help your staff cope with ‘password overload’
  • Tip 5: Change all default passwords

Step 5 – Avoiding phishing attacks

In a typical phishing attack, scammers send fake emails to thousands of people, asking for sensitive information (such as bank details), or containing links to bad websites. They might try to trick you into sending money, steal your details to sell on, or they may have political or ideological motives for accessing your organisation’s information.

Phishing emails are getting harder to spot, and some will still get past even the most observant users. Whatever your business, however big or small it is, you will receive phishing attacks at some point.

  • Tip 1: Configure accounts to reduce the impact of successful attacks
  • Tip 2: Think about how you operate
  • Tip 3: Check for the obvious signs of phishing
  • Tip 4: Report all attacks
  • Tip 5: Check your digital footprint

To learn more about cyber security visit



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