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Don’t get caught out by Cyber Crime – Keep your Business Safe

February 02, 2016

Don’t get caught out by Cyber Crime – Keep your Business Safe

Written by admin

Cybercrime is only a problem for large companies with lots to lose – wrong!

Cybercrime is a very real threat to all businesses including SMEs. In fact, some hackers might even see a small business with a lack of security as an attractive target.

A few months ago, a local company employing 20 people was almost forced to close after its computer systems were hacked by an international crime gang.

The Federation of Small Business has estimated that cybercrime has cost SMEs in the UK around £785m a year since 2013, with further research suggesting that one in ten small companies have suffered a data breach in the past three years.

Most companies, regardless of size, are heavily reliant on internet connections and computers to help control the daily running of the business. Everything from critical company data to email conversation with customers is stored on and accessed via the company’s network.

With this in mind, it becomes apparent why it is important for SMEs to ensure that every step is taken to reduce the risk of a cyber-attack and limit the damage that could result.

In today’s business environment, the ability to access data anywhere at any time is considered an advantage. However, it also poses a risk, and the costs involved in recovering this information – and the costs involved if it can’t be recovered – can be hugely expensive and hard for small businesses to recover from.

Could you continue to operate successfully without access to your customer’s information, company database or pricing documents? How would the company recover if your customers’ confidential bank details were stolen?

Many companies think in terms of virus attacks, and most do have anti-virus software, but be prepared for the possibility that preventative measures may not provide 100% protection. However, there are many other measures that can be taken.

A key rule is that security is an ongoing series of activities – because threats change and develop, measures should never be just switched on and left.

Cyber-attacks from hackers who steal data or encrypt data held on computer equipment so it is inaccessible and demanding a ransom for its return are not stories of the imagination.

Backing up critical business data on a regular basis will prevent hackers being able to hold you to ransom, especially if the backups are kept offline from your own office network.

Another entry point for attack is via the near total availability of wireless access. By setting up your router to require a password for wireless access and changing your wireless access point to not broadcast the network name, you can help prevent hackers gaining access to your network.

Make sure your firewall is being properly maintained. Many businesses have a firewall, often as part of their broadband router, but it is rarely monitored. By ensuring your firewall is fully enabled and maintained, you can protect your computers from any unsolicited incoming or outgoing connections.

Consider, too, encrypting the data on devices used by you and your staff, whether mobile, laptop or desktop, and educate the workforce on the importance of taking care when opening attachments from unknown parties or clicking on unknown links.

Many flaws in business security are human in nature, not electronic, and if one computer on your network becomes compromised, your entire operation is at risk of cyberattack.

So if you allow staff to access your network using their own devices, even if only for Internet access, it is important they understand that anything on their device can transfer to your network.

Fact File

How best to protect your business:

  • Back up critical business data
  • Put a password on your router
  • Do not broadcast your wireless network 
  • Ensure firewalls are properly maintained 
  • Encrypt data on all devices 
  • Educate your staff
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