East firms 'at risk from cyber attack', communications giant warns
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Thousands of firms in the East of England may be leaving themselves open to cyber-attack, communications giant BT has warned.
The telecoms and network provider commissioned a survey of around 1,000 company decision-makers across the UK and found small firms relying on security products not designed for business use.
The study suggests 36% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the East of England do not have the appropriate level of cyber protection in place - meaning thousands are at risk.
During the pandemic, most small firms moved online - and at the same time, opportunistic cyber criminals stepped up efforts to target them.
The government’s own Cyber Security Breaches survey found nearly half of UK small businesses suffered a cyber security breach or attack last year.
But in spite of the increased threat, more than a third of businesses in the East of England are relying on security products designed to protect consumers - not businesses.
Worryingly, 5% of the SMEs in the region compared to 4% nationally are not using any cyber protection, the BT study suggests.
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And its study found a high level of complacency with more than half (55%) of SMEs without cyber protection believing their business isn’t large enough to be at risk.
Chris Sims, who heads up BT’s SoHo (Single Office/Home Office) unit, said: “There has been a huge shift over the past two years in the number of small firms in the East of England moving more of their business online. While 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 while 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.”
BT describes itself as "a leader" in cyber security with 3,000 experts across the world and has launched various tools to help companies ward off threats.
The company offers free Content Control and BT Web Protect included as standard with BT business broadband. BT Content Control enables customers to manage web traffic according to categories they wish to block or allow, while BT Web Protect warns them when they try to access suspicious URLs which could carry harmful malware. It is also offering additional business antivirus protection for a monthly fee.
It has launched a new interactive tool which it has developed to help small businesses spot cyber threats in workplace scenarios and learn how to combat them.
Its Skills for Tomorrow programme offers free webinars on topics such as how to spot attacks and how to avoid opening risky files or visiting phishing sites.