Strong cyber security is essential to protect both you and your customers, especially in a world of e-commerce and online shopping. In this article, you'll learn how a cyber security policy can help to protect your reputation and your bottom line.
What are the impacts of a cyber-attack?
From losing customer data to systems being made unavailable, there are a range of impacts a cyber-attack can have on your business. You should be aware of the potential financial damage a cyber incident can have, as well as the time it takes to recover.
Possible damage to your business could include:
- Losing money or data
- Cost of implementing new measures
- Staff time taken up responding or being unable to work
- Wider business disruption
The more secure and robust your cyber security policies are, the smaller this impact will be.
What is a cyber security policy?
A cyber security policy provides working guidelines for how your online systems and software should be used to minimise risk. It helps everyone in your business to understand the processes you have in place to protect your company, data and assets.
Your cyber security policy should cover lots of areas, including:
- The measures you’ve put in place to minimise threats
- What data will be backed up and how you will manage this
- Best practice processes, such as what you should or shouldn’t do
- The different responsibilities your employees have
Your policy may include expectations on using social media at work, rules for using emails, or guidance for safeguarding data.
Here are eight benefits of a cyber security policy for small businesses, and why it should be thorough, up-to-date and fit for purpose.
1. Reduce your potential costs
Cyber-attack and data breach costs can soar into the thousands, even for smaller businesses. A recent government survey estimates that the average costs are over £3,000 per incident. So, having the right procedures in place not only helps to prevent a breach in your business, but it also protects your bottom line.
2. Keep staff trained
It’s estimated that 43 per cent of data losses are caused by internal factors - half of which are accidental. Training your employees and making them aware of cyber security best practices through your cyber security policy is vital. Whether it’s being aware of malicious emails, unknown attachments or best password practices, make sure they’re in the know.
3. Protect your reputation
It’s all too common to see headlines where large organisations have had data breaches, often resulting in millions of customers’ details being leaked online. But data breaches can impact a smaller businesses reputation too. Whether it’s customers or shareholders, everyone wants reassurance that you’re handling their data securely, and your policy can support this.
Many small businesses think that they are too small to be a target but this simply is not the case; threat actors target businesses of all sizes to profiteer from weak cyber security or poor processes, and the reality is that loss of data or inability to traded will impact your reputation and brand.
4. Avoid legal action
You may find yourself facing legal action if you’re the victim of a data breach and you didn’t have adequate policies in place to help prevent it. Although having cyber insurance can help you in this situation, a comprehensive security policy can make it less likely in the first place. With good staff training and rigorous procedures, you can minimise the risk of claims against your business.
5. Safeguard sensitive data
All companies should be vigilant when it comes to security, but if you’re dealing with large amounts of sensitive customer data, it’s even more important to stay secure.
From names and addresses to phone numbers and emails, you should:
- be aware of the data you're handling.
- stay compliant with data protection.
- ensure your policy outlines how data will be kept secure.
Avoiding data breaches is key to complying with UK GDPR. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) explains the impact of a personal data breach on data protection regulations, and you can read our guide to UK GDPR for small businesses.
6. Don’t miss sales
When you’re running a business, the last thing you want is for your website or other important systems to go down, leaving you unable to transact. Having the right measures in place can help to protect you from losing out on sales if your website is compromised.
7. Stay updated
The world of technology is constantly evolving, with new programs and apps appearing all the time. Keeping your cyber security policy up-to-date and checking it regularly will help you to maintain best practices in your business.
8. Quicker recovery
If you suffer from a breach, it’s easier to recover from the damage if you can quickly identify the problem, know what went wrong and tighten your security. You may need to invest in more staff training or update your guidance on installing software.
Having a solid cyber security policy in place will also help to limit the impact on your business, meaning you can get back on your feet much faster.
Download your cyber security policy template
Dealing with paperwork can be stressful when you’re running a business, especially if you don’t have an IT department with all the technical know-how. FSB members can download a free cyber security policy template from FSB Legal and Business Hub.