Business Essentials

Cyber security: an action plan for SMEs - Brought to you by NatWest

Cyber security: an action plan for SMEs - Brought to you by NatWest

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

It’s crucial that businesses are equipped to deal with the evolving cyber threats that come from working in a more digital world. The National Cyber Security Centre’s new campaign provides essential tips to help businesses stay secure online.


Sarah Lyons, deputy director for economy and society at the National Cyber Security Centre, shares details of its new Cyber Aware campaign, the simple steps businesses can take to protect themselves from online crime, and a new tool that can help you and your employees stay cyber secure.


Clear and present dangers

“Over the past year, businesses in the UK have adjusted to new ways of working and are using the internet more than ever before,” says Lyons. “According to a report from the Centre for Economic Performance, over 60% of firms have adopted new technologies or management practices since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, while a third have invested in new digital capabilities. This is happening in almost all industries and organisations of all sizes, from sole traders to large enterprises.

“The increased use of email, online payments and collaboration software has brought great benefits to UK businesses, but it does come with risks, and we’ve sadly seen many businesses falling victim to cyber criminals,” Lyons adds. “To help guard against this, early in the coronavirus pandemic we published guidance for businesses on making a secure transition to homeworking. We’re now taking things further, with a new campaign to help sole traders and microbusinesses with their security.”


Practical steps to take

Knowing which measures to take to improve your cyber security isn’t always easy, says Lyons. “There’s a lot of information out there, and sifting through it to find the right guidance for your business takes time. That’s why the NCSC has launched a new tool, the Cyber Action Plan. If you’re starting out on your cyber journey, the Action Plan will help you identify security advice that’s relevant to you and your business.


“The increased use of email, online payments and collaboration software has brought great benefits to UK businesses, but it does come with risks”Sarah Lyons, deputy director for economy and society, NCSC


“After answering questions on your current digital practices in our new Cyber Action Plan, you’ll receive tailored advice from us on how to improve your cyber security.


“The Cyber Action Plan recommendations stem from six practical steps provided by our technical experts. Taken together, these steps can help protect you from the majority of online crime.”


These six essential steps are:

  1. Use a strong and separate password for your email
  2. Create strong passwords using three random words
  3. Save your passwords in your browser
  4. Turn on two-factor authentication
  5. Update your devices and apps
  6. Back up your data


“These actions are at the heart of our Cyber Aware campaign, which you may hear more about on the radio and social media this spring. We’ll be raising awareness about cyber security and urging businesses to use the Cyber Action Plan. And we urge everybody to help us spread the word.”


Start with the NCSC’s Cyber Action Plan

Cyber security should be a priority for businesses of all sizes, but it doesn’t need to be daunting.

“We recommend you visit our Cyber Aware page,” says Lyons. “From there, you can try our Cyber Action Plan, get bespoke recommendations and find out more about the steps you can take to protect your business. The tool is free to use, it only takes a few minutes, all of the advice is free to implement and it can all be actioned in just a few hours – it might just provide the crucial knowledge you need to protect your business from a cybercrime.


“To improve your cyber security further, visit the small business pages on our website, where you can access a range of resources and guidance created specifically for small business owners.”


Our Partners:

Sponsored by Specsavers Sponsored by NatWest