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Cyber Security - Part 3: Protecting your small business from a Cyber-Attack

Protecting your business from a Cyber Attack

You may feel that because you run a small business, hackers are not interested in you – they have ‘bigger fish to fry!’ Unfortunately, this just is not the case and in fact, small business can be even more of a target for cyber criminals because they’re often not prepared or protected against cyber-attacks.

This article provides simple steps that any small (or large) business can take, to protect themselves against hackers and cyber security breaches.

Step 1 – Familiarise yourself with what is and isn’t ‘sensitive data’

Most hackers want to make a profit. One of the main targets of a hacker, is to get company or individual credit card information and with that information they're able to withdraw money or make purchases. Another way they can make money is to sell this information on. That said, there are other types of sensitive data they can steal, including:

  • Customer information
  • Employee information
  • Intellectual property
  • Industry specific data and operational data

The best way to keep all this information secure is to not leave it in unprotected areas (always password secure your data), and don’t hand out or leave this information where it can easily be viewed or taken. Only share sensitive data with those staff members who absolutely require it and nobody else (see step 4, below).

Step 2 – Educate your team

Aristotle said it best: “Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.”

Cyber-attacks, and therefor Cyber Security, is no longer going on in the background but taking front and centre stage, with most individuals and businesses being aware of it. We also understand that no business is too big (or too small) for cyber criminals to target. This is a big step from where we were just a few years ago!

It’s important that you prepare your team against cyber-attacks, by educating them on what can happen and how they can avoid it. The more they know and understand, the better they can prepare against it.

This can be achieved by:

  • Reminding them not to open attachments from senders they don’t know
  • Have procedures in place for encrypting personal and sensitive information
  • Encouraging them to change their passwords frequently

Step 3 – Keep software updated

Small businesses utilise lots of software, from free downloadable software to well-known big corporate applications, like Microsoft Office.  Whatever software you run should always be the latest version and kept updated. This is to ensure you’re not only running the latest (and often best) versions but they’ll often come with the latest bug fixes and resolve any issues found, usually by Ethical Hackers. Older apps and software are more susceptible to cyber-attacks, where company data can be stolen, your networks hacked, and damage caused.

Step 4 – Determine team access privileges

Not everyone in your organisation needs access to everything. In fact, this is not recommended at all. Create and be aware of which team members have access to which information and ensure that only administrators have access to the full functionality of a network, system or tool. This is often defined by job title, role or responsibility.

Step 5 – Hire a professional!

This is possibly one of the most beneficial ways to protect your business and when you think of how much a data breach or hack can cost an organisation, having either a fulltime Cyber Security professional, such as an Ethical Hacker or Penetration Tester, makes complete sense. Alternatively, you could train either yourself or your IT department (if you have one) via Cyber Security eLearning courses, with e-Careers. Many businesses choose this option as they prefer to upskill their existing employees and train internally.  

Closing thoughts

Cyber Security is an area of the business, like Digital Marketing, that your company should be investing in. It helps ensure you’re kept safe and protected from internal and external damage. As your business grows, the demands of a Cyber Security Professional may also increase but even the smallest businesses can benefit from learning and implementing the above tips into your day-to-day processes. Once staff and owners are onboard and thinking about Cyber Security more prominently, businesses can focus on what really matters to them – improving brand awareness, increasing leads and overall, increasing revenue!

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