It goes without saying that organisations that put IT security low down on their list of priorities find themselves in the hottest, deepest water. According to a report from Hiscox Group, a small business in the UK are targeted by cyber-crime every 19 seconds – that’s 65,000 attempts every single day. Scary statistics indeed, but they can only do real damage if you’re not properly prepared. So, what can you do to defend your business?
Create a culture of awareness
Did you know that a staggering 88% of data breaches are caused by staff members, to reduce these numbers dramatically, make IT education a priority in your organisation. Ensure that you and your staff are always up to date with the latest threats and how to avoid them by running internet safety awareness courses. Lead by example and schedule regular reviews and refreshers into your diary. You cannot expect your staff to take security seriously if you are promoting bad habits like Post-it notes displaying multiple passwords, or you regularly share login details.
Use strong passwords
Having separate passwords for each different application is a pain, but for security sake, it really is better to be safe than sorry. In the past people have made it easy for hackers to steal passwords by using them on multiple accounts or choosing weak codes, it’s time to step up your game and make your passwords secure. Strong passwords include a combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters, and (ideally) should be changed once a month.
You might be sweating at the thought of creating (and remembering) all these new passwords. But don’t worry because there is some excellent password managing software out that enables you to create (and remember) new passwords without having to keep coded messages in your diary or phone, so there’s absolutely no excuse for the likes of “Password1” or “123456” any more.
Having a multi-factor authentication system makes for even stronger security practice. Before being granted access to data, users must provide proof it’s really them logging in. This can be as simple as receiving an email or a text on your phone.
Be careful what you (and your staff) post
Today, with the unlimited access to one another’s lives (through social media) it has become the social norm to overshare. From the Kardashians to friends you haven’t seen in years, it has almost become a new trend to divulge each moment of their waking day in detail. This constant stream of easily obtainable personal information has given cybercriminals the perfect opportunity to target victims through social media, finding out where they live and what they do for fun and where they work, in seconds.
To reduce your chances of falling victim, think about how much information you want to share with strangers and make it a policy for employees never to post business details online.
Avoid public Wi-Fi
While it can be refreshing to work outside the office in local cafés or trains, using free Wi-Fi leaves you wide open to attack. Cyber-criminals will be waiting for a perfect opportunity like this to steal passwords, customer data and banking details, swiftly spreading viruses between multiple devices. If you or your team are going to work remotely, using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) will secure your connection and don’t forget to turn off sharing on your device settings.
Develop a multi-layered approach to IT security
Robust, up to date anti-virus software and firewalls serve as the most important tools for preventing cybercrime and should be constantly monitored and regularly updated.
Avoid any vulnerabilities hacker could exploit by ensuring all software is regularly updated. You may not think it, but old, outdated computers also pose a substantial threat, so undertake regular inventories of your entire system and schedule licensing renewals.
Even with the best plans and defences, disasters can still happen. The world of cybercrime relentless and constantly evolving, so much so that even top security experts can’t guarantee that a hacker won’t sniff out a new way to break in. So, cover yourselves with a data backup and disaster recovery plan for if the worst happens. When your data is properly backed up in a secure place and regularly tested for weaknesses, any disasters that do occur can be rapidly dealt with and you’ll have peace of mind that any lost data can be quickly replaced – reducing your companies downtime.
Being able to fully manage all areas of IT is a mammoth task
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