cybersecurityMany small and medium sized manufacturing businesses could vastly improve their online safety and subsequently their reputation if they made cyber security more of a priority. According to new data from the government’s Cyber Security Tracker, 23% have suffered from a virus, Trojan, malware or spyware attack in the last year yet 49% never or rarely monitor their IT systems for security breaches.

Many businesses confess that they rarely or never use complex passwords (34%) or encrypt files containing confidential or business critical information (66%) despite 10% having incurred costs to restore affected IT systems over the past 12 months.

It’s clear that more manufacturing businesses could make their processes more secure simply by seeking some guidance. 15% say that a friend or family member is currently responsible for helping with IT issues when needed and 4% admit that they don’t have anyone in the business responsible for online security.

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Despite the fact that many companies do not have someone accountable for cyber security, the issue is in fact on the radar of business leaders, but many are too busy to give it serious consideration. 66% of manufacturing companies agree they should make cyber security a bigger priority but that other matters always seem more urgent.

When it comes to online concerns for manufacturing businesses, the top worry is suffering from a virus, Trojan or other spyware/malware as identified by 50%. This is followed by financial loss from theft of money or bank details (46%) and hacking (37%). However with 95% of procurement managers at big businesses saying that they would avoid a small firm that had failed to protect itself from cyber crime, SMEs also need to be aware of the long-term effects that cyber attacks can have on a business and its reputation.

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Universities Minister David Willetts said: “The internet provides small and medium sized manufacturing businesses with huge opportunities but there are also risks. However the majority of cyber crime relies on businesses failing to do the basics well. Making your business cyber streetwise can be quick, easy and cheap with the right support. Make life harder for cyber criminals and protect your business, its customers and its reputation.”

Cyber Streetwise has identified five simple steps every business should take today to immediately improve their online lives:

– Install and always update antivirus and firewall software to protect business and customer information
– Use complex passwords for IT systems, computers and devices
– Ensure you and your staff never download something if its origin is unknown
– Ensure staff delete suspicious emails before opening
– Review what important information your business holds and whether it is adequately protected.