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Green Cross code for SMEs

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Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Industry groups, vendors and police came together in Westminster today to collaborate on producing guidelines to help protect small firms from the growing menace of e-crime.

Parliamentary lobby group Eurim and the Institute for Public Policy Research hope their Protecting the Vulnerable report will act as a catalyst for improving security awareness among small firms and SOHO workers.

The report, the second in a series from Eurim looking at aspect of cyber-crime, includes a number of practical recommendations including:

  • Educating SMEs on security risks and what they can do to protect themselves

  • Opening new and more effective channels of advice and information, managed by the key organisations which are respected by small businesses

  • Encouraging suppliers and retailers to promote and sell robust, effective and easy-to-use security products and services

  • Making sure that small businesses have effective means of reporting suspicious incidents


These recommendations come as small firms increasingly find themselves as the targets of online crime. Many have insufficient computing expertise or either lack the time or funds to combat the threat.

There are 2.6 million sole traders and 1.2 million businesses with less than 50 employees in the UK, employing 40 per cent of the entire UK population.

Many of these companies provide services within the supply chains of larger organisations. The lack of effective secure computing within these SMEs pose creates a risk not only to these firms themselves but their larger partners.

Specific recommendations advocated by Eurim include establishing a secure computing information resource maintained by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), a ‘Green Cross Code’ pack detailing codes of practice for the safe use of technology, the inclusion of practical security modules in IT training courses and a Home Office advertising campaign highlighting the need for PC security.

Philip Virgo, Secretary General of Eurim, commented: “More needs to be done to protect small businesses. This paper outlines key measures that should be taken as a matter of urgency. We need to get the message to small firms that acquiring, installing and maintaining secure information systems is essential for their own good and for that of the economy as a whole.”

The launch of Eurim's report was backed by security officers from Microsoft and Cable & Wireless, and officers from Scotland Yard's Computer Crime Unit, all of whom offered words of support and encouragement for the scheme.

Protecting the Vulnerable can be found here.

A Microsoft/British Chamber of Commerce guide to improving IT security can be found at Microsoft’s Web site for small business, bCentral. ®

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