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Poor IT habits putting small businesses at risk

News   •   Jun 23, 2017 10:18 BST

One in ten small business owners and employees are regularly putting the security of their data at risk by sharing confidential files on personal devices, or sending documents to personal rather than work emails. This demonstrates a significant lapse in data security among the UK’s five million plus small businesses.

The study by Reckon also found that a quarter of small business owners (25%) and their teams save documents onto their desktops rather than a central server. This also means there is less likelihood of the data being backed up, so should a computer failure occur then the data could be lost. These statistics were just as prevalent in larger SMEs, those with a turnover of £10 million or more, as the findings showed that the same 10% of these larger businesses sent documents to personal devices and a third saved documents on desktops rather than central servers.

"We believe the reasons behind these data breaches may include ease of access when working remotely, and keeping documents to hand rather than sorting through mismanaged folders," said Mark Woolley, Commercial Director at Reckon.

Sending and saving documents incorrectly and to personal devices breaches basic data security guidelines and could even put employers and employees at risk of breaching data protection laws. Such practices also place confidential information at risk of hacks or unauthorised use, and also mean that employers cannot provide complete audit trails of documents within their own business.

It’s concerning that so many SMEs in the UK are ignoring basic data protection rules. The findings are especially worrying where SME owners are involved, as they are placing their own organization’s sensitive information at risk. Incorrectly managing data and information in this way can pose financial, reputational and security issues to a business, something that no business owner wants to have to deal with.

Cyber security is as much of an issue for SMEs as it is for larger organizations according to the Business Continuity Institute's latest Horizon Scan Report which showed that organizations of all sizes share the same concerns. A global survey identified the top three concerns for both SMEs and large organizations as cyber attack, data breach and unplanned network outage.

Bad habits can easily stick, particularly amongst teams within businesses where there aren’t clear policies around data security,” added Mark Woolley. “I’d urge new businesses to set guidelines around working with documents and emails at the outset in order to give themselves a head start when it comes to keeping information safe. Businesses should also consider that new legislation such as the General Data Production Regulation will incorporate additional data security into law, making adhering to basic practices of vital importance."

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