A leading data protection specialist is encouraging businesses to ensure staff understand the basics of IT security, as new research shows that one third of all SME closures are due to human error.

A recent survey also revealed that 64% of UK workers have received no training on IT security issues, including prevention of malware and loss of sensitive data.

Misinterpretation of data protection laws, using weak passwords, falling foul to social engineering, opening infected emails and following through phishing emails are all causes of major IT failures at many businesses across the UK.

Data protection and IT specialist Graeme Batsman feels that enhancing UK workers’ knowledge of IT security will benefit businesses in all sectors and reduce the risk of human error.

He said: “A large proportion of UK workers do not see data security as an issue while others view it only as a problem for the IT department and technical staff; it is vital that we protect our digital lives.

“There are simple and cost effective measures that businesses can take to ensure that security improves, including the right training and a change of mind set.

“Protecting company data is highly important and as research shows, losing this data or allowing it to be corrupted can have massive consequences for the business as a whole; all of this is most likely down to human error.

“By understanding the best practices of IT, many UK workers can not only ensure they protect their company’s data but they will also be able to protect their own data using simple security procedures on laptops and even mobile devices.”

Social engineering is a big problem for many UK businesses but is mainly unheard of. An outsider uses his social skills to manipulate staff by, for example, pretending to be a manager or an IT technician to gain details of passwords or files.

Graeme added: “Everyone needs to be aware of the necessity of securing their digital world and even more so following recent media revelations regarding phone hacking, email hacking, stolen laptops and DDoS attacks.

“Companies can surround themselves with the latest high-tech security - biometrics, firewalls, antivirus scanners and encryption - but it only takes one uneducated employee to render all of this useless.”

Graeme Batsman is director at Data Defender which provides data and communications security as well as IT security user awareness training.