Cyber security for the sole trader. I do a lot of networking events and talk a lot about Cyber Security. However, my focus, tends to be on how SME’s and Corporate companies should be better protected, and how they should mitigate risk.

But during a conversation this morning, I started talking to a lovely lady who is a sole trader. It got me thinking, that there is no real advice about cyber security for the sole trader.

So, Sole traders and you guys who only have a couple of people, this is for you. I hope you find it helpful.

When you are a small business, you obviously have to watch the pennies and not spend unnecessary cash. However, there are certain things you need to spend money on. There are also things you can do for free, which I will look at first.


Yes, that dreaded word that causes every IT user problems. First of all, your passwords should be 10 characters or more, but for total security they must be 14 characters or longer. You must mix up letter, numbers and special characters. If like me, you struggle to remember your passwords, get a password manager, like KeePass. This is free to download. It will keep all your passwords in an encrypted database – just remember to back up the database.

One tip to make up a password – think of a phrase, poem or a song and take the first initial of each I.e Lets take Rabbie Burns – A Red Red Rose. The first line is:

My love is like a red red rose, that’s newly sprung in June. – So your password could be $MlilaRRrtnsij9, you will notice I added a special character in front, a couple of capitals and a number at the end.

Now, if you put that into a password checker such as it will take an automated password cracker 16 Billion years to decipher! Why not try out your current password and see what it says?  You may be surprised!

Computer Updates

Updates are free. Make sure you have Windows updates turned on. You can find this in Settings/Update & Security. This will tell you the last time your device was updated.

This equally applies PC’s, Laptops and very importantly Mobile devices, as does antivirus.


Any well known anti-virus program will do, there is not much to choose between them (except cost). Personally, I would l would recommend Webroot it will cost you £22.49 per year – the price of good bottle of wine in a restaurant!

You have to ensure you have updates turned on and make sure it scans you Laptop regularly. Webroot has a very small footprint, so you won’t even know it is running until it catches a virus and tells you about it.

Office365 Business Premium

I would highly recommend you purchase a copy of Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium. This will cost you about £100.00 a year and you can use it on 5 devices. For that cost, you get all the Microsoft products which includes email and one drive for business (which I will talk about shortly). Office 365 is cloud based and will make your life so much easier. Some people may prefer Google Apps, this is fine as well, although I think Microsoft is more secure than Google because of the Google open platform. That is another discussion!

Top Tip – Office 365 gives you 50Gb of email storage. This is huge and will last you a long long time. However, if you delete something, after 30 days it will be deleted forever and there is no way to get it back. So, unless you want to pay for Office365 backup, don’t delete anything. Leave it all in deleted items and you can retrieve if necessary.


If you have read any of our other posts, you will know Unleashed are anal about backup! Now for a sole trader, it is easy. Mainly because most of you will only have documents so you don’t need to worry about a restore. You just want them backed up.

My recommendation is for everyone to have at least 3 copies of each piece of data. Your first copy will be on your laptop hard drive. If you have Office365 you will have OneDrive for Business, use this for your second copy.

OneDrive for Business has some version control. This means if your current copy gets corrupted or infected with Ransomware you can revert to a previous version and then delete the infected file. If you are using a free cloud storage you may not have this capability and could end up in big trouble!

Now, that may be enough. But, as I have mentioned I am anal about backup. For your third copy buy an external USB hard drive, not the small ones but a decent one from PC World. A 1TB drive will cost you about £50.00. Most of these drives come with some form of backup software, if not use Windows Backup and setup a backup schedule for each night. When you are not running a backup, ensure your hard drive is UNPLUGGED from your laptop. The reason, if it isn’t plugged in, it can’t get infected! Store this drive in a safe place.

Top Tip – As with email, if you delete something from OneDrive for Business it will be deleted after 30 days. For this reason. when you are doing your backup to hard drive, make sure you copy everything as a new backup in a new folder at least once a month. That way you negate the 30 day rule. Once you have a full new backup, delete the old one.


This is the de-facto standard we all use. If you are at home, ensure your home router has a strong password. If you are working in a coffee shop or shared workspace never, never, never connect to a Wi-Fi service you do not know or trust. If you are in Costa or Café Nero, they will ask you for an email and password and that is fine. If you see one that is open and you think great I will use that, you could be in trouble!

Coffee shops are notorious for hackers frequenting and offering free Wi-Fi, once you connect to it they can then access your laptop and infect you with a botnet or key logger. This will not be picked up by your anti-virus. What it will do, is collect data on everything you are doing. So, they could start spoofing your emails or get your online banking details.

In Conclusion

I hope you found this of interest and helpful? Security doesn’t have to be expensive. If you follow my guidelines you will pay less than £125.00 per year and £50.00 for a hard drive which will last you years.

One more thing, Cyber Security is a lot of common sense. If you are in doubt about anything, but particularly an email – DELETE IT. If you see any attachments from someone you don’t know DELETE them.

If after reading this you still want some more advice then please feel free to contact us: or phone 0333 240 0565