Safeguarding Your Small Business in Scotland: Essential Cybersecurity Conversations with Your IT Provider

In today’s digital landscape, small businesses in Scotland face an ever-growing array of cybersecurity threats. Protecting your business against these risks is paramount to safeguarding sensitive data, preserving customer trust, and ensuring uninterrupted operations. One of the key steps in fortifying your business’s cybersecurity posture is having meaningful conversations with your IT provider. Here are the top three cybersecurity threats faced by small businesses in Scotland and the essential discussions you should have with your IT provider to bolster your defences.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are one of the most prevalent and deceptive cyber threats faced by businesses of all sizes. These attacks typically involve fraudulent emails or messages that trick recipients into divulging sensitive information or clicking on malicious links.

Your staff are a key part of your defences, but can they recognise websites and links that are used as fronts for phishing and malware attacks? It might sound like common sense, but it’s easy to get complacent or caught out if you are not regularly reminding your staff about the importance of security awareness in your everyday business activities.

Employee Training: One way to reduce the risk of phishing attacks and protect your small business is employee training to keep yourself and your staff alert with on-going, meaningful training modules.

Whether you’re establishing your first training program or refresher training modules, don’t delay in discussing training options with your IT provider. Education is key to empowering your employees to act against phishing attempts. All good IT providers will offer regular employee training programs that focus on identifying phishing emails, recognising red flags, and adopting safe email practices.

Email Filtering and Spam Detection: In addition to employee training, advanced email security measures can significantly reduce the volume of malicious emails reaching your employees’ inboxes, minimising the risk of successful phishing attacks. Enquire about robust email filtering solutions and spam detection mechanisms implemented by your IT provider.

Solutions can include advanced sandboxing and real-time link protection. Nimbus Blue also provides email archival and journaling to help businesses get a better handle on their organisation’s email data. These services use Nimbus Blue’s cloud-based solution to preserve data, allow search, and ensure the security of emails when employees leave or go rogue.

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks pose a severe threat to small businesses, as they can result in data encryption, system downtime, and financial losses. Cybersecurity attacks seem to be hitting the headlines more frequently these days, and whilst ransomware attacks have been around for some time, the sophistication and scale of the attacks is seeing an upward trend. According to the 2022 “Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report,” ransomware attacks surged dramatically in 2022, with ransomware involved in 25% of all breaches.

For small businesses in Scotland, ransomware attacks can mean disruption to supply chains as well as financial losses, which can be catastrophic. To safeguard your business against ransomware attacks, there are two key areas that you should discuss with your IT provider.

Endpoint Protection: Ensure that your IT provider implements robust endpoint protection solutions, such as advanced antivirus software and anti-malware tools. Regular updates and real-time threat monitoring can detect and prevent ransomware infections at various entry points, including computers, servers, and mobile devices.

Hybrid and remote working practices are often preferred by smaller businesses, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working has become more prevalent across all business types. Ensuring you have robust firewalls and network protection is essential. Working remotely removes the defences of the office firewall, so it is important to take steps to increase defences against malicious traffic coming into your computer no matter where you are.

Backup and Disaster Recovery: Have you discussed backup and disaster recovery strategies with your IT provider? Implementing regular data backups and establishing efficient recovery mechanisms, that are beyond the reach of attackers, can help restore your systems and data in case of a ransomware attack. Your IT provider can put systems in place to verify that backups are securely stored and periodically tested for reliability.

At Nimbus Blue, we provide Microsoft 365 Auditing, giving our customers peace of mind that their Microsoft 365 account is configured using best practices for security and identify opportunities for improvement.

Outsourcing IT security is a great way to manage your security needs, especially as many small businesses will not have a dedicated role for this within their team. Outsourcing a Virtual Security Officer involves adding a virtual security expert on your team for regular reviews and advice, ensuring that your security is always in focus and moving with current trends and threats.

Insider Threats

While external threats often steal the limelight, internal risks should not be overlooked. Insider threats, whether accidental or malicious, can have a significant impact on your business’s cybersecurity. As part of a 360 review of your security practices, it is important to engage in discussions with your IT provider to mitigate insider threats.

User Access Controls: The implementation of strict user access controls can help to ensure that employees have appropriate access privileges based on their roles and responsibilities. This minimises the risk of unauthorised access and potential data breaches.

Monitoring and Auditing: It is also important to discuss monitoring and auditing capabilities with your IT provider. Implementing tools and processes for tracking user activities, detecting unusual behaviour, and generating detailed logs can help identify potential insider threats and facilitate timely response. This will not only give you more confidence in your security policies, but also your customers and suppliers who are entrusting you to manage their data and information safely and responsibly.

The UK standard for security in small businesses is Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus certification. This is the perfect way to demonstrate to your customers and suppliers that you’re serious about protecting their data. Check with your IT provider if they can offer guidance on this and take you through the process to assure you of a pass.

In conclusion, small businesses in Scotland must proactively address cybersecurity threats to protect their operations and sensitive data. By having meaningful discussions with your IT provider about phishing attacks, ransomware protection, and insider threats, you can collaborate to strengthen your cybersecurity defences. Remember, cybersecurity is an ongoing effort, and staying vigilant, adopting best practices, and seeking professional guidance are essential to safeguarding your business from evolving threats. Empower yourself with knowledge and take decisive action to protect your small business from cyber adversaries.

Get in touch with our team to discuss how our cyber tech specialists can support your small business to get the most out of your technology and keep your business safe.