Breach, Threat Management, Data Security, Threat Management

Bad habits put UK SMEs at risk of data breaches and unauthorised use

Ten percent of small business owners and employees in the UK admit to having poor security habits. The surveyed individuals admitted to regularly sharing confidential files on personal devices or sending documents to their personal emails rather than work emails.

New findings from software developer Reckon show a significant lapse in data security among the UK's small businesses, which number more than five million. The survey included responses from 1198 small business directors.

“Bad habits can easily stick, particularly amongst teams within businesses where there aren't clear policies around data security,” said Mark Woolley, commercial director for Reckon Software's Virtual Cabinet, in a release.

Twenty-five percent of small business owners and their teams save documents onto their desktops instead of a central server.

Sixteen percent of businesses aged 10 and under email files to personal addresses on a regular basis, despite breaching data security guidelines. In comparison, seven percent of companies aged between 10 and 20 years do this and four percent of those aged between 20 and 35 years.

The research discovered that the same 10 percent of these larger businesses with a turnover of £10 million or more sent documents to personal devices and a third saved documents on desktops rather than central servers.

Reckon believes the reasons behind these data breaches may include ease of access when working remotely, and keeping documents on hand rather than sorting through mismanaged folders.

Sending and saving documents incorrectly and to personal devices breaches basic data security guidelines and could put employers and employees at risk of contravening Data Protection laws and also place confidential information at risk of hacks or unauthorised use.

“It's truly concerning that so many SMEs here 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 business' 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,” said 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.”

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