Why IT staff redundancies will leave UK SMEs vulnerable

One in four employers are set to make permanent redundancies before the end of June, with a drop in IT personnel increasing the likelihood of severe data breaches, research shows.  

New research, published by cloud solutions company iomart, analyses the financial impact of typical, severe and catastrophic data breaches to reveal what each could cost businesses. 

On top of the staff that have already been made redundant, 42% of businesses anticipate having to make further cuts when the furlough scheme ends. IT personnel are in the firing line, but a reduced IT workforce substantially increases the likelihood of data breaches. 

How much a business stands to lose depends on how long it takes them to identify and then contain a breach, which correlates to the number of records stolen - as outlined by IBM’s study on the cost of a data breach. 

As 22% of fintech jobs under risk, businesses are likely to take significantly longer to classify and contain a breach - which could prove financially crippling. Even under the current average time to identify and contain a breach, the typical loss for a large company is between 10 and 99 million records per incident, resulting in a company value drop of 7.27%. 

According to the study, human error is the main cause of 95% of data breaches, meaning 19 out of 20 cyberattacks could be avoided if businesses prioritised training staff and strengthening the IT workforce.

The costly fines imposed by GDPR and the projected rise of data breaches make it more important than ever for remote businesses to invest in data protection, especially in lieu of reduced IT staff. 

Bill Strain, Product Development Director at iomart, comments on the findings: “These figures are a stark warning about the importance of investing in data protection. Many smaller businesses wouldn’t survive the operational impact of a successful cyber-attack, let alone the financial one of a punishing fine on top. 

“Looking at your potential risk and knowing where your data is, controlling who has access to it, and making sure it’s secure should be an absolute priority.

“It’s still the case that most cyber-attacks start by exploiting our human vulnerability. By training staff to spot suspicious emails or links you can lock the front door and then use technological solutions to ensure the hackers can’t get in around the back.” 

iomart also offers some top tips on how businesses can create an effective defence against such an attack: 

  • Keep IT systems and software up-to-date

  • Store sensitive data separately

  • Control users’ access and privileges

  • Secure the email gateway

  • Do regular off-site backups of your data

  • Provide regular security training for all staff

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