New guide can help firms combat cyber crime as stores hit by attack
Cyber security chiefs have drawn up a new guide to help small businesses shield themselves from online attacks.
Firms are urged to follow the advice to guard against threats that can cost time and money.
It comes after all-island retail giant Musgrave - which owns Mace and Centra convenience stores, as well as SuperValu supermarkets - confirmed it had been the subject of a cybercrime attack on its network and stores.
The company said it was investigating the matter and contacting the authorities - though there was no evidence any data had been stolen.
The tips - compiled by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) - follow research by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which found this year that nearly half (45%) of all micro or small businesses identified a cyber security breach or attack in the last year.
The NCSC Small Business Guide includes five steps across categories focused on backing-up data, using strong passwords, protecting against malware, keeping devices safe and avoiding phishing attacks.
Alison Whitney, director for engagement at the NCSC, said: "Cyber security can feel daunting for a small business, which is why we've made the UK's most easy-to-access guide to help them thrive online.
"Protecting against malware, backing up data and avoiding phishing attacks should be as second nature to a small firm as cashing up or locking the doors at night.
"Whether you own a bakery, a building firm or you sell products online, our advice will help all business owners avoid threats that can cost time, money and reputation."
Mike Cherry, national chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), welcomed the new guidance.
He said: "Cyber crime is one of the fastest growing risks to small businesses and support to tackle it is essential. FSB research shows cyber attacks on small businesses now cost the economy over £5bn a year."
DCMS Minister Matt Hancock said: "In the past year, nearly half of small businesses know they experienced a cyber attack, and many more did, but don't know it.
"As the great opportunities of the digital revolution open up to more and more areas of our lives, it is absolutely crucial businesses small and large are protected against this threat."