Tips for tradespeople to prevent cyber crime

As a tradesperson, you might not think you’d be a prime target for cyber criminals. However, a recent survey we commissioned with 500 UK tradespeople revealed that almost a quarter of those questioned had fallen victim to online criminals in the last 12 months.

Our research showed that 23% of those surveyed said they or their business had suffered a cyber attack or cyber incident in 2023.

The survey also highlighted that seven in every 10 tradespeople are worried about the threat of cyber crime and the impact it could have on their businesses – with 35% saying they were ‘very concerned’.

James Trevis, NFU Mutual’s Cyber Specialist, said: “Cyber crime is sadly becoming an ever-increasing threat to our industries – and tradespeople are no different – so we’re urging bosses and employees to stay vigilant and do all they can to avoid falling victim.

“It’s important to remember that if you utilise digital technology in any way to run your business, you’re potentially exposing yourself to cyber security threats – and the ramifications can be very serious. From financial fraud and loss of income to reputational damage and even legal liability, tradespeople should be aware of the cyber risks they face.

“Tradespeople are a pillar of our communities so it is vital they feel they are protected and supported should the worst happen.”

If you use any of the following digital technology to run your business, then it’s worth thinking about your cyber security needs:

  • The use of laptops and computers, tablets or mobile phones to communicate with customers, order materials and book jobs.
  • Servers or digital storage facilities to hold customer and employee data.
  • A website to promote your business and book work.
  • The use of online banking to transfer funds, purchase supplies and receive payment from customers.
  • Internet connected devices – such as office computer networks, CCTV and lighting to storing employee or customer data online, the risks continue to grow and evolve.

To help protect your trade business, we recommend the following advice:

  • Use strong passwords – but crucially don’t use the same log in details or passwords across multiple accounts and services, always separate personal and business accounts.
  • Implement Two Step Verification (Multifactor Authentication) – this is a simple method which requires two different methods to 'prove' your identity before you can use a service, generally a password plus one other method, such as a text message or fingerprint.
  • Ensure all software is up to date and kept updated on a regular basis.
  • Back up your files and data weekly and store on a separate, secure device.
  • Educate employees around cyber risks, including how to spot potentially dangerous or fraudulent emails. It’s important to remember that employee error or negligence can also leave your business exposed, so making sure your staff are trained on the risks is key.
  • Install a firewall and anti-virus software on all company devices and keep them updated.
  • When setting up connected or “smart” devices, ensure factory set passwords are changed and all security features are enabled.

We understand the importance of safeguarding your business in the physical world, as well as the digital one. That’s why NFU Mutual partner with expert providers to arrange cyber insurance to provide critical support, control and protection in the event of a cyber incident. To find out more, visit our Business Cyber Insurance page.