The UK’s small businesses are being urged to take “urgent steps” in order to protect themselves from ransomware following the global cyber attack that significantly affected organisations around the world.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which represents the UK’s 5.5 million smaller companies, said it had received “specific concerns” from the National Cyber Security Centre, the new government department set up to tackle the growing cyber crime threat.

The FSB is recommending that firms take a number of steps to protect themselves, including checking for updates, installing anti-virus protection and backing up data.

Research from the body shows that a cyber attack costs a small business nearly £3,000 on average and it takes them more than two days to recover from it.

Smaller firms are particular targets for cyber criminals, with seven million attacks executed against small UK firms every year – that is 19,000 every day.

What is more, they tend to have fewer resources than their larger counterparts and can struggle to find time and resources to focus on developing robust cyber crime strategies.

The FSB said companies can protect against the “rising” cyber risk, perpetrated by ever-more sophisticated online criminals, by:

  • Taking out specific cyber security protection insurance
  • Checking for updates to their operating systems and anti-malware software
  • Making sure their data is backed up
  • Keeping up to date with cyber security news and reading up on the latest advice

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: “We are urging all small businesses to take steps to reduce the risk of an attack.”

The recent worldwide cyber attack, thought to have been executed from a cyber gang based in North Korea, effected thousands of computers across the globe.

One of the most high-profile victims was the UK’s NHS, which resulted in operations being cancelled, ambulances being diverted and patient records being made unavailable.

Cyber security researchers think the ransomware attack was perpetrated by the Lazarus Group, also thought to have been responsible for the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in 2014, which saw the release of hundreds of emails that caused major embarrassment for the high-profile entertainment firm.

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