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In 2017 we were hit by the NHS cyber attack and ‘Russian hacking’; even Apple suffered a major security flaw that allowed full access to Macs without a password. Despite this, over 87% of small businesses do not think they are at risk of hacks and many have not taken the necessary, simple steps to protect themselves online.
In reality, approximately half of small businesses experience a cyber-attack during a 12 month period; roughly 50% of which go out of business in the following 6-month period.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is about protecting your digital assets, computer-based equipment, and information from unintended or unauthorised access, change, or destruction.
Much of business now takes place online, where advertising, social media marketing, digital management and e-commerce are commonplace. Technology offers huge opportunities and benefits to business, yet without appropriate cyber risk management and data security, your money, your employees, and your clients are left at risk.
What is a cyber attack?
A cyber attack is an attempt by hackers to damage or destroy a computer network or system. This can be done through remote hacking into your IT or third-party systems such as your company bank account. Other crucial attack points include gaining information through staff or unauthorised access to company devices.
The impact of such attacks ranges from theft of financial information and disruption of trading to damaging your business’s reputation and customer base. All ultimately lead to financial loss and potential long-term negative effects.
How can I keep my business safe online?
- Cybersecurity training
A simple step which is all too often overlooked by SMEs is educating your staff on how to stay safe online. Your staff must understand the importance of maintaining strong passwords, how to spot suspicious online activity and identify fraudulent emails.
Network access usage and procedures for keeping employee, vendor, and customer information safe should also be made clear.
- Provide policy!
Ensure you have clear policies and processes on staff accessing data, emails and the internet. Other important points to consider include use of social media and BYOD (or bringing your own device) to work. You must make it clear what your staff can share online. Attackers tailor and create convincing scams using business information which is posted online.
- Password protect
By creating strong passwords, you are improving your digital security. Unauthorized people should not have access to company computers and accounts.
Employees should have a password for every desktop and mobile device they use, and regularly change these every few months. Consider using a password manager that securely stores and creates passwords for you.
- Secure your devices
You wouldn’t dream of leaving your car unlocked all day, but not securing your computers, you are at risk of cyber criminals attacking your business.
Malicious software known as malware can infect your computers, laptops and mobile devices. You can protect against this by installing security software on your business devices, setting up firewall security to protect your internal networks and using spam filters on emails.
- Encrypt and backup data
Encryption codes data so that only approved users can access it when it is stored or sent online. It is also important to regularly back-up your business’s online and computer-held information so that in the event of a cyber attack you can recover what you have lost.
We suggest that you use multiple backup methods such as daily back-ups using portable devices or cloud storage and weekly server back-ups.
- Regularly review
Monitor the equipment and software used by your business, remove what you no longer need and destroy sensitive information held in these areas.
Maintain your conversation with staff about cybersecurity, update policy and ensure all back-up, encryption and cyber security is working effectively. There are always further opportunities to partner with security vendors and purchase cyber liability insurance cover (CLIC).
Learn more about Cybersecurity
There are plenty of online resources available to learn more about ensuring your business stays safe online, but if you have any more questions, let us know!
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with staying safe online and cybersecurity. If you’d like to develop your social media policy or 2018 social media plan, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01652 638290 – we are more than happy to help!