With the Petya cyber-attack spreading across the globe just weeks after the worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack, the issue of data protection and IT security is more pressing than ever. Although these cyber-attacks have hit large organisations, most notably the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), small businesses are being targeted with increasing frequency. As a result small business owners need to make data protection and cyber security a top priority.

According to Small Business Trends, 43 percent of cyber-attacks are targeted towards small businesses and shockingly, 60 percent of small businesses affected by cyber-attacks go out of business within months of an attack occurring.

Data protection is a legal requirement and is essential for protecting and maintaining business operations. The Data Protection Act requires organisations to ensure information is kept safe and secure. Cyber-attacks compromise the security of private data and consequently, businesses can face devastating effects such as loss of consumer trust, major problems with business systems and ultimately, financial loss.

To avoid suffering the crippling effects of cyber-attacks and data being compromised, all businesses need to understand the importance of IT and server security, and how they can safeguard information if an attack is to strike.

Small businesses in particular cannot ignore the need for a robust cyber security system, since cybercrime costs small businesses disproportionately more than their bigger counterparts when adjusted according to organisational size. Prevention is key to protecting businesses’ data.

The number of small firms going out of business as a result of a cyber-attack is shocking. One of my company’s main queries of late is smaller business owners getting in touch for help after an attack has already happened. Business owners must realise that taking action to prevent such security breaches and potential data loss should be top of their agenda. You should be confident that your customers’ data and indeed your own, is protected.

Reputation and consumer trust is of the highest priority for businesses and not abiding by preventative measures endangers this and ultimately leads to huge financial losses. Backup is essential for data security to ensure that any data which has been lost can be restored. Preventative measures include advanced email security and filtering systems; encryption software to secure all devices; and anti-virus and anti-malware protection.