Mark West headshot

Mark West’s CV highlights //

2022 – Present // NED – Virtus Tech 

2021 – Present // NED – 

2018 – Present // NED – The Stanley Gibbons Group 

2002 – Present // Founder – People Processes and Solutions LTD 

2013 – 2017 // CEO – LLX Global Business Services SA 

2000 – 2002 // Distribution Director – Harrods 

In the second part of our digital strategy focused content with People Processes and Solutions Ltd Founder, Mark West, we consider how SMEs can boost their cybersecurity to protect their digital assets during peak trading.

With so many transactions being made over the festive season – and with so many people rushing to buy last minute gifts – shopping centres and high streets become the perfect hunting grounds for thieves. But this also translates to E-commerce. Cybercrime thrives during peak trading because increased transactions offer cybercriminals more opportunity. That opportunity rises further when you take into account that cybersecurity is often neglected by people under pressure – which they often are running up to Christmas and New Year.

With that in mind, here are Three Things Mark recommends SMEs do to enhance their cybersecurity to make sure their digital software remains safe from would-be intruders:

number 1

Educate yourself and your staff.

“The peak time for digital trade is the peak time for cybercrime”, Mark explained, “…and ransomware is escalating out of control.” Hackers are constantly looking for ways to infiltrate businesses, and it is not a case of if, but rather when, they will try to infect yours. Scams like phishing emails are one of the most prevalent ways hackers look to do this, so being able to identify those malicious emails at source is crucial. “Education of employees’ cybersecurity awareness is paramount,” Mark emphasised. “You must make sure they’re aware of what phishing looks like, so courses on business cybersecurity are definitely worth looking into.” 

Mark highly recommended the National Cybersecurity Centre’s ‘Coffee Briefing’ monthly newsletter as one of the best ways SMEs can keep up with cybersecurity news. It tells you what your threat level is, what to look out for, and what the best course of action is in specific situations. Sign up here.

number 2

Close your backdoors.

“This is where you’ve given remote access to your employees or your suppliers so they can either upload to your website or to your main back-office systems”, Mark clarified. Whilst this is often a necessary part of being a digital business, it can leave holes in your systems for cybercriminals to penetrate.

“You wouldn’t leave your windows and doors open when you go out and expect everything to be there when you come back, would you?” Mark asked, before explaining that the best way to avoid security breaches and ‘close those windows’, is to frequently change your passwords. “Do this for everybody because we all give access to external parties to help us when problems arise” he reiterated. Changing your passwords regularly gives hackers a much smaller window to exploit. To enforce frequent password changes, you can follow the steps in this article.  

number 3

Choose swift and secure payment methods. 

“The point of transaction is when most hacks happen”, said Mark, “…and it’s usually where credit card details are stolen.” Customers need to feel safe when buying from you, but they also don’t want the payment process to be clunky and time-consuming. Again, cumbersome experiences will force consumers to shop elsewhere, so striking a balance between security and swiftness is key.

One of the easiest ways to ensure that equilibrium is by implementing established payment methods. “Can you use Apple Pay, PayPal, or Amazon Pay?” Mark asked. “If you can, then you certainly should because they do all the encryption for you and most people have at least one of those accounts already set up.” 

* * *

We can’t thank Mark enough for imparting his wisdom on this topic which helps our members keep their online businesses safe this winter. We’re sure his advice will be of great use and will help to set many minds at ease over the Christmas period.

If your business is facing a cybersecurity issue you just can’t quite get your head around, apply to All Together’s pro bono advisory platform today for up to five hours of one-to-one support from one of the UK’s leading CEOs.