When we talk about work/life balance in a small business context, all too often it's about whether there are enough hours in the day to get the job done properly without sacrificing valuable time with family and friends. But new research carried out by Experian in conjunction with the government's Cyber Aware campaign this month, shines a spotlight on another important intersection between our work and home lives.

The #OneReset campaign urges Brits to protect their email from hackers with a strong and separate password. This is because your email account is a gateway to a vast amount of information. Hackers can use your email account to access many of your other personal accounts and, for entrepreneurs, also potentially confidential and commercially sensitive business information. This is another example of how our individual behaviours have the potential to impact on the security and sustainability of our business enterprises.

The research exposes a range of hidden shortcuts people take in their personal and business lives but push to the back of their minds - a world of risky email habits that leave them vulnerable to cyber crime including identity theft and financial fraud.

Over three quarters (79%) of Britons surveyed with an email account have sent personal information - such as their address or bank details - over email, including 45% who said they'd sent their address details, 11% who had sent bank or credit card details and 31% who had shared work details.

Even among people who claimed to feel very or fairly worried about being hacked, 17% still admitted to having sent sensitive financial information on email.

These figures alone should be enough to cause concern given that 1.2 million people were victims of cyber crime in 2017, and 46% of businesses have reported at least one cyber security breach in the last 12 months.

But, even more worryingly, of those who had shared personal information, 67% have not deleted all the items. More than half (55%) of those sending their passport or driving licence still have it in their sent items, 52% have still got bank or credit card details, 66% mortgage or tenancy agreements and 56% handwritten signatures.

"We know that cyber criminals use email as a gateway to personal information and some of these figures show how much sensitive data can be stored in your email account," says Miriam Wraight, head of RICU (Research Information and Communications Unit), Home Office, which leads the government's Cyber Aware campaign.

"And it's not just the content of your email account that could prove valuable to hackers in a security breach. If a hacker is able to access your emails through cracking a weak password, they can also use this to get into many of your other online accounts, by asking for your passwords to be reset.

"This has real consequences not just for people's personal security but also for business, with many small business owners often blurring the lines between work related material and their personal email accounts."

To help hammer home the online security message, Cyber Aware, supported by Experian's research insights, is urging Brits to better protect their email accounts with a strong and separate password, as part of its new #OneReset campaign. It is designed to get people to think about the simple resets they can do to make their lives and businesses better - for business owners that might be refreshing their marketing strategy or setting aside more time to meet contacts face-to-face - while at the same time taking cyber security more seriously to protect their identity. Making just one reset to their email password to keep it strong and separate from all other passwords can help protect against the majority of cyber threats.

It's clear from many of the responses, for example, that a large number of people appear to be more focused on our physical wellbeing than the state of our online security. Only 8% of those surveyed picked improving their online security from a number of ways in which they felt they needed to "reset" their life. The most popular "resets" are improving fitness (48%), followed closely by "a healthier diet" on 41% and "getting more sleep" in third on 37%. But those aren't the only resets those surveyed were keen on pursuing - nearly two fifths (19%) want to reset their careers through a change of job and over one in ten want to reset their dating or love lives.

Cyber Aware is hoping that the personal behaviours highlighted in the #OneReset campaign are carried over into the SME space, with businesses encouraged to take time out to reset their email passwords. An effective way to create a strong password is to use three random words that are memorable to you, but not easy for other people to guess. Where available using two-factor authentication on your email account will provide added protection.

The aim is for them to sit alongside a range of cyber security advice already developed by Cyber Aware to help businesses protect themselves from cyber criminals.

These include always installing the latest software and app updates, which contain vital security updates that help protect your device from viruses and hackers. It is also good practice to safeguard your most important data, such as your photos and key documents, by backing them up to an external hard drive or a cloud-based storage system.

Using public Wi-Fi to transfer sensitive business information such as bank card details can leave you at risk as cyber criminals can set-up fake WiFi hotspots, which might enable them to intercept sensitive information you are transferring online.

Finally, the expert advice is to always add an extra layer of security to smartphones, tablets and laptops by setting them to lock automatically when not in use. This means if someone gets hold of your device they can't access the data on your device without entering your password, pattern, PIN or fingerprint.

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