Government wants SMEs to get 'streetwise' on cyber crime

Whitehall wants a safer internet for businesses

A new campaign has been launched by the government urging small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to become "cyber streetwise'" to reduce the risk of attacks over the internet.

The Cyber Streetwise campaign is aimed at changing the way people view online safety by providing the knowledge required to take control of online security.

According to a government survey, just 44 per cent of people install internet security software on new equipment, only 37 per cent download security updates for their computers, 21 per cent for their for their smartphones and only 30 per cent of people use complex passwords to protect online accounts. On top of this, a worryingly large 57 per cent of people said they do not check websites were secure before making online purchases.

A serious threat

Gary Fairley, cyber and digital lead at the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), told the BBC that such behaviour could have a significant impact on the companies they worked for.

"There has been a shift in cyber criminals' attention towards SMEs in the last year or so and it's important that businesses take the threat seriously," he said.

He urged companied to make sure that security patches in their business are up to date, that passwords are strong, unique and changed regularly and that staff know what their responsibilities are in protecting business information.

Initially funded by the government's National Cyber Security Programme, the Cyber Streetwise campaign is receiving support and investment from a number of private sector partners.

While public awareness campaigns top this year's cyber agenda, 2014 will also see the first national computer emergency response team (CERT-UK) become operational as part of the government's objective to reinforce cyber incident response arrangements.