Why Does Cyber Security Awareness Still Fail Among SMEs?

E RADAR is a founder member of the new Yorkshire Cyber Security Cluster, set up to help regional businesses within the Information Security field to work collaboratively to build and increase information security knowledge, give a networking platform to share ideas and best practice, and enable members to deliver high value contracts. Will Roebuck suggests that cyber security professionals must communicate better with ordinary businesses to hammer home their key messages.

Last year E RADAR ran a high level event at the University of Huddersfield on the opportunities and benefits of rural digital economies across Europe. Part of the DigiChampz Initiative funded by the European Commission, we invited several speakers to discuss their IT use, one of whom was a small business owner. Her business focused around helping people with work and social burn out, those who were suffering from depression and just needed time out. She hated the Internet, preferring to meet and talk with people face-to-face. But the speaker had also realised that 'digital' was here to stay and she was part of it.

A couple of technology gurus who had attended that day walked out on her presentation, rudely I thought. Not only that, but they were quite dismissive of her honest concerns and made their views known via Twitter.

There isn't a day goes by without cyber security featuring in the national press. If it isn't a bank 'losing' our personal data, it's a computer hacker bypassing the information and network security controls of some large organisation. We're constantly warned that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vulnerable to attack; that they must get their acts to carry out cyber security protection across the business enterprise.

Cyber Security Awareness

But, why are SMEs so slow to heed the warnings? After all, we now live in a connected world, where digital natives are fast outnumbering digital migrants and those that have never touched digital technology in their life. Today, 59% of the UK's population has an active social media account, with 32 million accessing these accounts through a mobile device. Facebook is the top active social network platform at 43% and Instagram surprisingly comes last at only 8%. Facebook Messenger is the top active ‘chat app’ whereas Snapchat comes last at only 6%.

It's easy for technologists, information security specialists and other cyber gurus to champion their causes without even thinking about it. They live and breathe, in detail, the technology world every day. However, most people do not, including entrepreneurs and SME owners who are just doing what they know best. Making money to grow their businesses and carve out a livelihood for themselves.

Better Communication

The topic of cyber security, like technology, media and telecommunications law and compliance is a switch off. So, we, as digital professionals and cyber security specialists must become more accommodating to the needs and requirements of ordinary businesses trying to make sense of the new digital world in which we all take part. We simply need to communicate cyber security awareness to business organisations in a language which we all understand.


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