Last updated: 18.06.24

Cyber Security in the Workplace


Businesses across the UK and around the world have sensitive information that they must keep confidential, whether to protect their clients or concerning the company’s finances. However, as the amount of information businesses keep grows and as the digital world becomes more advanced, keeping data secure is becoming all the more difficult.

When it comes to the new financial year, or when it’s time for businesses to pay their taxes, cyber criminals are most likely to act. Often, in the rush to meet deadlines and avoid the ire of the taxman, consumers become vulnerable to cyber security scams and identity theft.

Good cyber security in the workplace is becoming increasingly important for most companies in the UK, irrespective of the goods they trade in or the type of customer they deal with. Digital systems are now integrated into almost every aspect of a given business's day-to-day processes - from the till systems that are used to process transactions, right through to the databases that are used to maintain lists of customers and their respective purchases. 

If they’re not protected properly, all of these systems are vulnerable to infiltration and attack from sophisticated criminals and online activists, many of whom make a habit of probing digital frameworks for any hint of vulnerability daily.

Robust workplace cyber security doesn't just protect your business from malicious attacks though. Companies that take steps to safeguard the data that they rely on, and minimise the risk of cyber security problems occurring, also find that they have insulated themselves from the catastrophic consequences of accidents and improved productivity by reducing the chances of their digital systems failing due to human error, or viruses.

Most important though is the legal compliance aspect of good cyber security. GDPR is the best example of this; mandating that businesses take steps to ensure that they are properly protecting their customer's data and introducing a series of sanctions for businesses that fail to meet its exacting standards.

Since these new standards are centred on ensuring that good workplace cyber security measures are in place, every business with robust cyber security protocols will find that they have little to do in the way of extra legwork. In this article, we’re going to look at the main benefits associated with robust and well-thought-out cyber security in detail and then share our advice on how to keep your workplace cyber-secure.

The Benefits of Cyber Security at Work

Enhanced Productivity

As mentioned above, poor cyber security at work can inhibit a business’s productivity by allowing data to be wiped or stolen. Files are always at risk of corruption from viruses or random coding errors, and it’s also important to remember that there’s always an element of human error to be considered. 

If someone unplugs a computer, trips over a cable or accidentally deletes a database, companies without the proper safeguards in place may find that hours or even days of valuable work have vanished in the blink of an eye. Some of the data that modern businesses deal with, such as address lists, transaction histories or financial records will also be impossible to recover once they’ve been lost.

A good cyber security plan mitigates the risk of these accidents happening, and insulates a company from the resultant dip in productivity by:

  • Ensuring that firewalls and virus checkers reduce the incidence of viral infections
  • Backing data up in secondary storage devices

One of the best cyber security tips is to use cloud storage to safeguard data. This increasingly popular solution ensures that data isn’t tied to a physical location, and can be recovered from anywhere as long as someone has the right passwords. This can be incredibly useful in the event of a full system failure, or a localised power cut.

A Better Reputation

Losing a customer's data, or allowing a hacker to steal information about their credit cards, email addresses and physical location can seriously damage the reputation of a business. Companies that do not practise cyber security awareness and safeguard customer data are generally regarded as less trustworthy, and less capable, than their competitors. There is also plenty of evidence to suggest that the increasingly digitally aware public actively steers clear of businesses that have allowed sensitive information to leak into the public domain.

Good cyber security in the workplace makes it impossible for hackers, hacktivists and cyber criminals to breach a business’s digital systems and, in doing so, ensures that the business in question never develops a reputation for being careless and/or untrustworthy.

Protection from Sanctions and Penalties

Under GDPR, any leak of sensitive information also brings the risk of penalties and sanctions. Since these can include fines of up to 4% of annual turnover, there is a pressing need for many businesses to ensure that they never accidentally leak or erase sensitive information. 

Good cyber security awareness accounts for every possible eventuality and puts safeguards in place to ensure that sensitive data is not retained for longer than is strictly necessary. A business that meets the workplace cyber security requirements should be well insulated and should be able to trade without worrying about legal complications and their potential impact on the business.

How to Improve Cyber Secure at the Workplace 

Cyber security awareness isn’t enough at work - there should be safeguards put in place to ensure that standards are being upheld and data is protected, both through individual behaviour and company-wide procedures. Although preventing a system from being hacked is very difficult - hackers are advancing all the time to ensure they’re one step ahead of us - there are ways businesses can lower the risk of data being stolen.

Here are some of the key ways to improve cyber security at work.

Keep Passwords Strong

While simple and generic passwords are easy to remember and use, they can be a target for hackers. To avoid this, make sure that all employee passwords are at least eight characters long. These must be random alphanumeric characters, both upper and lower case, with digits and punctuation marks.

Implementing password managers is a useful cyber security tip, generating secure passwords for users and storing them safely. Employees should avoid saving passwords straight to their devices and instead use a password manager with a unique login, keeping all workplace passwords safe and secure.

Update Protective Software

While having decent protective software is the first step in preventing hackers from gaining important information, workplace cyber security also involves keeping your malware and firewall protection up to date. This should be done before opening any sensitive documents or connecting to a tax preparation service.

Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi

Although using a coffee shop to work while you’re in a meeting or on the go may be handy, it’s not worth risking the security of your company. With the increase of remote and flexible working, this is an aspect of cyber security at work that businesses should be really careful about.

It’s best to avoid using public Wi-Fi services when making financial transactions or when working with any kind of sensitive information, as lower security causes risk. The majority of public Wi-Fi connections are unencrypted, so anyone operating around the network can harvest any information that is transmitted over it.

Be Aware of Phishing Scams

During the tax period, cyber criminals are aware of consumer anxiety about the potential for audits or fines and use this to their advantage. Companies should use cyber security awareness resources to make sure that their employees don’t fall for any phishing scams that use alarming language or threats that are supposed to scare users into giving personal or sensitive information.

As part of improving employees’ awareness of phishing, some companies set up internal phishing tests where they send out a suspicious looking email to employees to see who responds, and then use this as a case study to identify what needs to be improved in terms of workplace cyber security.

Back-Up All Information

Ransomware is one of the fastest growing forms of malware and there are no signs to show that this is slowing. Often, ransomware encrypts all the data from your hard drive and demands a ransom payment to return it, which can be financially devastating to small businesses.

The only way to avoid this is to ensure you have all your information backed up. You can do this by storing all your sensitive financial documents on a USB drive or online cloud service. You can also protect any sensitive data on your local storage media by saving it in an encrypted folder.


Who is responsible for cyber security?

Who is responsible for cyber security depends on the size of a company and the roles within it. In most cases, the CEO or owner of the business is ultimately responsible for ensuring good cyber security at work. However, if a Chief Information Security Officer is appointed, or a GDPR officer, they might be given the majority of the responsibility to manage the company’s cyber security efforts.

What is phishing in cyber security?

Phishing is a type of cyber attack where hackers send emails or other messages pretending to be someone else in an effort to get the recipient to click on a link. By clicking this link, the hacker gains access to the recipient's device or infects the device with a virus, either stealing or corrupting the information stored on there.

Why is cyber security training so important?

Cyber security training is important because it is one of the key ways to improve workplace cyber security and ensure that all employees are protected against cyber attacks. Not only does this provide protection at an individual level, but it also protects the whole business from facing a range of consequences such as fines, reputational damage and a loss of income.


The security of our data is becoming increasingly difficult to protect. However, there are many ways businesses can play a part in preventing a data breach and ensuring appropriate cyber security at work, which includes delivering training to all employees.

To find out more about cyber security and ensure your business approach to it is sound, our online ‘Cyber Security Awareness’ course is CPD certified and covers a wide range of topics to help ensure your business is safe from cyber-attacks.