A survey into SME attitudes to risk has identified which of 24 'risk scenarios' (that's things that could go wrong, to you and me) are most likely to keep business owners awake at night.
The research, commissioned by McAfee, revealed UK SMEs view their technology systems and the integrity of their data as the biggest areas of risk.
In contrast, things that might traditionally have been perceived as significant risks - like big marketing campaigns or competitor initiatives - are seen as being much less likely to have a detrimental impact on business performance.
This graph shows the ten highest risks selected by businesses in the UK:
Although it's perhaps depressing that new technology is responsible for so many worries in business, this survey also suggests a greater awareness of the risks, which bodes well for long-term improvements.
What's more, most companies can reduce most of these risks by taking some fairly simple steps.
To start with, it's a good idea to create some sort of security plan. It doesn't have to be an enormous document, but writing even a short plan will force you to think about what the key risks are.
Once you've done that, make sure you've covered these basics:
- Get good IT security software from a reputable firm such as McAfee, Kaspersky, Bitdefender or Trend Micro. It can go a long way towards protecting your computers from viruses and hackers.
- Make sure you're on top of your IT maintenance and install software updates in good time. This will help you eliminate software bugs that hackers can use to break into your systems.
- Sort out your backups. Make sure you have a solid backup system in place and test it regularly. Cloud backup systems like Livedrive, Mozy and BackupGenie are good options for smaller companies.
- Think about how you'd cope in an emergency. You need to know how you'll carry on working in the event of problems and what steps you'd need to take to get things back to normal.