Sole traders and micro-businesses now have some extra cybersecurity support after the UK authorities launched a new online self-assessment tool.
The free service is being provided by the GCHQ-backed National Cyber Security Center to the country’s smallest businesses who, like most others, have been working remotely during the pandemic.
It’s a group the government believes is particularly at risk as they may typically lack the resources of even SMBs to devote to enhanced cyber-protection.
This can put them at risk of attacks designed to steal sensitive information, deploy ransomware, mine for cryptocurrency, perpetrate fraud and much more.
According to the government’s most recent figures, almost half (46%) of small and micro-businesses last year said they had been the victim of a breach or cyber-attack in the previous 12 months. The proportion of micro-businesses saying cybersecurity is a high priority has risen by 15 percentage points since 2016 (from 63% to 78%).
The new online assessment tool, launched as part of the government’s Cyber Aware campaign, asks participants a string of questions about their security posture. This idea is to find out whether the individual is following security best practice regarding backups, automated patching, up-to-date anti-virus, password management and use of multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Depending on their answers, the tool will conclude by offering advice and links to help the micro-business owner or sole trader enhance their security.
NCSC deputy director for economy and society, Sarah Lyons, urged micro-business owners to take a few minutes out of their day to take the self-assessment test.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of this country, but we know they can be a target for cyber-criminals, particularly as they move more operations online,” she added.
“Our free Cyber Action Plan is here to help, offering bespoke, actionable information linked to the Cyber Aware behaviors.”
The tool will be advertised on TV and radio from March 5.