- With the majority of businesses moving online during the Covid pandemic, many small businesses now need to consider their cyber security risk
- New research comes as BT announces new free tools to keep small businesses safe online
- Announcement closely follows the government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2022 which says 48 per cent of small firms reported cyber security breaches or attacks in the past year
BT estimates thousands of small firms in Northern Ireland, could be leaving themselves open to cyber-attack because they have little or no business-grade cyber security measures in place, according to new research it has commissioned.
The survey of 1,000 decision makers at UK businesses has found that many thousands of small firms may be at risk – despite having security measures in place – because they are relying on security products which are not designed for business use.
With the majority of small firms moving online during the pandemic, opportunistic cyber criminals have also stepped up their efforts to target them. The Government’s recent Cyber Security Breaches survey found that almost half of all UK small businesses suffered a cyber security breach or attack last year.
However, despite the increased threat, BT’s latest research reveals overall 29% of SME’s in Northern Ireland do not have the right level of cyber protection in place and are relying on security products which are designed to protect consumers rather than businesses.
The research also found 4% of SME businesses in Northern Ireland aren’t using any cyber protection at all, with this figure being even higher (17%) for micro businesses across the UK i.e. those with 1-5 employees. From this data, BT estimates thousands of businesses across the UK do not have any cyber protection in place and require more support to help keep them safe online.
BT, a leader in cyber security with 3,000 experts across the globe, has enhanced its cyber protection for small businesses by introducing new online tools and advice led resources to help small businesses better protect themselves from online attacks. The development comes as its research found that over half (55%) of SMEs which lack cyber protection believe their business isn’t big enough to be targeted by cyber criminals, revealing that many remain complacent around the risk of attack.
Paul Murnaghan, Regional Director for BT’s Enterprise business in Northern Ireland, said: “There has been a huge shift over the past two years in the number of small firms in Northern Ireland (22%) moving more of their business online. Whilst that’s a really encouraging trend, being an online business can also bring its challenges, particularly around cyber security.
“Any digital business – large or small – can be a target for cyber criminals, and this is something we’ve seen during the pandemic. And whilst consumer-grade products are great for protecting you while surfing the web, accessing emails and other personal use, they’re not designed for running a business which requires more robust protection and safeguards.
“It’s clear that our smallest firms need more support in this area, so today we’re launching new free cyber security tools for our BT business broadband customers, together with free online advice to help upskill small businesses on how to stay safe online.”
Small businesses can now benefit from free BT Content Control and BT Web Protect included as standard with their BT business broadband, providing built-in protection to keep their business safe online. BT Content Control works by allowing the customer to configure their web traffic according to the categories they wish to block or allow, while BT Web Protect warns the customer if they are trying to access suspicious URLs which could carry harmful malware.
BT is also offering Business Antivirus Protection, provided by McAfee, giving small firms business-grade device security to protect multiple devices from the latest online threats using email, web, and firewall protection. This can be purchased by BT customers placing orders for business broadband, mobile, or as stand-alone from just £4.99 per month, which covers up to five desktop devices plus unlimited mobile devices, including tablets.
Alongside the new online tools, BT has launched the next phase of its ‘The Future is Now’ campaign with a focus on helping businesses to stay safe online, featuring advice-led content from partners such as the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). A new interactive tool developed by BT is also available online to help small businesses spot cyber threats in workplace scenarios and learn how to combat them.
Small businesses can also gain access to cyber security guidance from BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme, with free webinars on topics such as how to spot attacks and how to avoid opening risky files or visiting phishing sites.
 According to the UK Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey
 BT estimation based on 827 Decision Makers from SMEs – with 3.9% of SME businesses not having cyber protection at all, and UK SME population size is 5.5m according to latest figures from FSB UK Small Business Statistics | FSB, The Federation of Small Businesses