Businesses could face millions of pounds in fines if they fail to protect themselves from cyber attacks under new Government proposals.

Digital Minister Matt Hancock revealed plans to penalise firms that don’t do enough to prevent hackers breaching their digital security. He announced the move as the Government launched a consultation on how to implement the Network and Information Systems (NIS) directive that becomes law across the EU next May.

Chris Pallett, Managing Director of Telford based Bespoke Computing, said organisations must urgently review and upgrade their systems or fall foul of the new regime.The Government says businesses will have to show they have a system and strategy in place to protect themselves from hacking or a system failure or face a fine under the new proposals.

For global organisations, that could be as much as four per cent of turnover but this is not just a big business issue. Cyber attacks cost SMEs £5bn a year and they are on the rise.

Failing to ensure the safety of your computer system is like driving a car without insurance. A loss of data can be devastating financially and operationally, especially when proper backup and restore procedures are not in place but, despite this potential for disaster, only a quarter of those businesses have cyber security accreditations in place.”

A widespread cyber attack crippled NHS services across England and Scotland earlier this year and the Government is keen to protect people from the growing number of online security breaches.

The most common cyber crimes affecting small and medium-sized businesses are phishing emails, spear phishing emails, and malware attacks.

Other threats include ransomware where data is seized and encrypted and held for ransom, hacking into a business’s computer network, and attacks which push a huge amount of data to a company’s website to make it crash.

Chris, who has more than 20 years experience in the IT sector, added: “There are simple measures businesses can take to make sure they are protected such as daily back ups of data, ensuring anti-virus software is up to date, and fixes for hardware and software are applied regularly but the landscape is continuously evolving.

Expert help is vital for an overview of the latest hacks and threats and to make sure systems are as watertight as they can possibly be. It’s much easier and cheaper to be pro-active than leave it until it’s too late.”

Bespoke Computing provides tailored IT and communications solutions to businesses across Shropshire, the West Midlands and beyond from its base at Stafford Park.

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