The prominence of the internet has changed the way companies of all sizes conduct their business. It has opened the doors for many SMEs to streamline their processes and generate additional opportunities in areas which previously might have appeared out of reach. However, it is not without some downsides, a major one being the growth in prominence of cyber crime.


Last summer a Government Security Breaches Survey found that nearly three quarters [74 per cent] of small organisations reported a security breach in the last year. This is a real concern, as is the variety and scale of the scams which are currently in the offing.


One example in early 2016 reports some cases of conveyancing fraud. In these instances criminals were said to have hacked into emails sent between solicitors and clients. The fraudsters, posing as the solicitor, then sent emails with instructions to transfer money from property transactions to a rogue account. The funds then disappeared.


As a lender it’s absolutely vital for Barclays to have a fraud prevention strategy in place. Plus a substantial, and active, fraud team alongside a raft of resources for individual and business borrowers. But, as a SME what more should you be doing?


The first prudent step is to ensure your business is fully protected, including the data in your possession. The lengths at which cyber criminals go to shouldn’t be underestimated.


SMEs could also be made aware that changes to any payment details attached to a transaction should be treated with suspicion. For example, if they are sent an encrypted email or asked for personal data by email, or anything that feels even remotely dubious, then they should pick up the phone and verify it directly with the party in question. The inclusion of cyber security and anti-malware protection will not only safeguard your business, but also provide an additional layer of protection for you, your customers and subsequently cement your long-term relationship with them.


Some of you may have seen Barclays latest advert which sees a seemingly trustworthy advisor asking for personal banking details whilst a voice in the background explains that his intentions are not genuine. The advert goes on to reveal a member of Barclays branch staff, who is a Premier Banking Manager, standing behind the fraudster and offering advice on how consumers can protect themselves.


This type of fraud is known as social engineering and it is the manipulation of situations and people that result in the targeted individuals divulging confidential information. It is one of the most prolific and effective means of gaining access to secure systems and obtaining sensitive information, yet requires minimal technical knowledge.


The advert is one way in which Barclays is raising awareness about these issues and we regularly host cyber crime events for SMEs locally most recently in Weston-Super-Mare.


From April 2016 Barclays will host a series of events specifically for businesses providing guidance on how they can protect themselves from cyber crime. For further information please speak to your Barclays Business Manager and more details about how to be cyber smart can be found here.

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