Cyber security — otherwise known as online security — has become increasingly important to businesses. The question of whether or not it deserves attention is no longer relevant; the question instead is, how much? Cyber criminals, often referred to as hackers, are becoming ever-more advanced in their techniques. Attacks are highly sophisticated and can have a seriously powerful impact on anyone who falls victim to them.
Unfortunately, small businesses are seeing rising risk.
Small business cyber security has never been so necessary. 20% of small businesses in the UK are subject to attempts by hackers to infiltrate their systems in some way every single year. This infiltration might be through phishing attacks, malware threats, ransomware attack, or other kinds of cyber crime. The cost of a breach is staggering; billions are lost every year to cyber attacks, with SMEs paying out an average amount of £1300 to repair damage to infrastructure caused by incidents like viruses or damage to hardware/equipment.
Over their lifetime, the majority of small businesses will see losses at the hands of cyber attacks. And it isn't just the threat of cyber attacks that now has people worried. GDPR rules mean attacks like phishing emails could cost you thousands in reversing system damage — and a significant portion of your turnover as punishment for not assessing and managing risks to your computers and devices well enough.
However, business owners are not helpless. There are things your company can do to ward off cyber crime and stop criminals from accessing your networks and data. But what actions and measures can you take to protect digital assets? This article discusses our top five cyber security business tips that all small business owners should make sure they are following:
Cyber security for business can be taken care of by other businesses. Companies stake their living and reputation on building software like firewall security and anti-malware that aims to halt even the most advanced attacks in their tracks. The best products are often not cheap, and you must always make sure you have the latest version to ensure new threats are covered, but the costs are worth it. Be sure your small business pays for cyber security software that regularly updates and rolls out patches for the latest threats. It doesn't mean it can catch everything, but using old cyber security software is asking for trouble.
Organisations that don't follow this simple guidance become easy targets for cyber crime. If your small business doesn’t have the latest anti-virus tools, hackers are more likely to invest their own time in taking down such an easy and vulnerable target. The deployment of advanced anti-virus tools results in diminished risk. It also supports your case in the event of a breach, as it demonstrates you were using the highest standards of security systems but were simply unable to prevent an attack.
What happens if a hacker does gain access to your files, documents, or databases? If you lack security protocols, they may simply be able to look at your organisation's important information without any barriers. You needn’t let it be so easy, however. There are tools to help guard this information.
Data encryption allows your business to scramble information within a file, so it matches with symbols and corresponding letters and numbers. In effect, it turns something readable into something unreadable.
The only way to access the information now is to unscramble it using an encryption key. If cyber criminals do not have access to the key, they cannot view the data and it is protected. Investment in updated encryption protocol, such as advanced TLS encryption used by eFax, secures data from hackers and improves cyber security. Make sure you are using updated platforms that routinely upgrade their software, though, as older updates can soon become obsolete as hackers learn how to bypass the encryption keys.
An increasingly common cyber security threat faced by small business is ransomware. These attacks aim to take hostage of your data and files. If small business owners want them back, management must pay funds to the hacker. Failure to pay money in exchange for the release of the ransomed information means your small business data will be destroyed and lost.
To curb this nightmare situation, the best idea is obviously backups.
The problem then becomes what happens if a hacker also ransoms your backup, or you put it on a physical platform like an external drive and lose it? It sounds ridiculous, but one study found millions of dollars are lost by businesses simply because USB drives are misplaced and never recovered. It's a practice that has its own risk factors.
The answer to this form of cyber security threat is simple: Cloud data storage. Companies can now store their backups on external servers, managed by companies with expertise in cyber security for small businesses. This kind of server offers protection by being separate from your security network, which means even if a cyber security attack compromises your small business, the cloud facility remains safe and separate. eFax are strong supporters of cloud technology when it comes to improving cyber security for small business customers. All our services are managed on the cloud, which means a document on your system subjected to ransomware attacks is protected — if you’ve secured it on our server.
Certain technology can actually increase the risk of cyber security threats to your small business. The major culprits are surprising ones, like your employee’s phones and laptops. When staff connect their devices to your system, they have the potential to compromise network security if their computer has been infiltrated by hackers already. They may also enter login information and passwords to work accounts through unprotected personal devices. Programs like keyloggers can record inputs and use them to access your networks. Even if your cyber security practices are excellent, problems with personal devices can lead to vulnerabilities from external sources.
Other threats to business information come from apps like message sharing services. These apps are known to have notoriously weak processes for protecting data, which means if an employee shares work-related information through the app, they are opening up your business to new methods of infiltration and data theft. Then you have systems like fax machines that introduce risk factors because they cannot defend against cyber security problems like more modern technology. To solve these problems, your business needs to do a few things: It needs to update weak technology to more suitable options. With fax, you can ditch the fax machine and move to online fax with eFax, which upgrades your security while enabling fax. You can also stop your employees using personal messaging apps to share data and instead find more secure business-focused resources.
Finally, ensure only approved devices access your network — those that have passed tests to ensure they have good anti-virus systems and protection methods are in place. If the device is not approved, it cannot access the business network and risk exposing it to threats.
It's another process that might seem obvious, but so many business handbooks and training content programs fail to include a password policy as one of their most critical elements. The advice of any cybersecurity business will be that one of the most important ways to plan for better cyber security protection is to update your passwords regularly and consistently. Events of cyber security breaches due to weak or compromised passwords are exceptionally common.
As many as 81% of breaches are the result of password infiltration.
Password infiltration may be a major threat to everything from your website to social media profiles — as well as access to email accounts and any attachments they hold. But the fact is, it's straightforward to perform reviews of password policies. You can achieve success immediately without the need for a budget. Simply introduce mandatory schemes that ensure passwords include a random term or random characters, and number combinations; you can even enforce types of symbols too. Then, make sure passwords are changed on set dates throughout the year. The addition of these simple but effective rules can help protect your site and network from many forms of cyber attack.
The route to better cyber security isn't as difficult as you might have thought. You can make a range of changes right now. Apply the actions outlined on this list, taking all necessary steps to secure your business's cyber world, and you'll better protect your clients, your assets, and your future.
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