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Five great ways to keep your business safe from cyber threats online

There are things that you can do to help protect your businesses and keep your sensitive data safe and out of criminal hands.

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The continued threat of business cyber fraud is one that is constantly looming over security experts around the world.  Cybercrime rates are on the increase with new threats surfacing every year.

Many small business owners think that cyber-criminals mostly target large companies, but this isn’t always the case. Business fraud and ID theft criminals do target small businesses as many of them can be an easy target because they often don’t have such strong protection measures in place.

Suffering a cyber attack can put your money, confidential business data and IT equipment at risk. If your system gets hacked and a criminal gains access to your network, they could do a lot of damage with what they find, such as:

  • Gain access to your client lists
  • Steal customer credit card information
  • Ruin your expansion plans
  • Interfere with your manufacturing processes
  • Steal your product designs
  • Access your company’s banking details
  • Mess with your pricing structure

However, there are things that you can do to help protect your businesses and keep your sensitive data safe and out of criminal hands.

Most businesses will invest in a cutting-edge internet security suite to help deliver real-time protection against current and newly emerging malware, including risks coming from viruses and ransomware. However, business owners need to keep on top of their subscriptions and ongoing protection provision and check to make sure that their chosen security provider is meeting their needs.

While implementing a new AI Cybersecurity system into your business security practices can bring substantial benefits and help you or your security team create better safeguarding processes, there are five very easy and effective things that you and your staff can do right now to help reduce cyber threats.

1: Use strong passwords and change them regularly

Many people have trouble remembering their passwords so will make the mistake of using the same one or two passwords for just about everything that requires password access.

The best way to protect your business data is to make your passwords as complex as possible and change them regularly. It will help to mix up a combination of at least ten letters, numbers and symbols to create your password so they are not hard to guess.

Changing your passwords often will also help to protect your business, you should also change your passwords when a member of staff leaves your employment for whatever reason. The last thing you want is for a disgruntled ex-staff member leaking your passwords or accessing your system to cause any malicious damage.

If you have several networked computers in your office, then make sure you have a strongly encrypted password for your network. You should use a VPN with a virtual network as this will encrypt all data leaving your office computers until it arrives at its destination.

Even if a cybercriminal manages to hack into your communications line, they will not be able to glean anything from your system other than encrypted data that will be of no value to them. If your remote staff use smartphones to communicate with your office, it is a good idea to use a VPN whenever they access a public Wi-Fi network outside of the office.

To protect yourself further you may want to explore the Mitre Att&ck framework, which is quickly becoming the de-facto tool for understanding and mapping attacker behaviour.

2: Keep your security software updated

Savvy cyber-criminals understand how to exploit flaws or weaknesses in security software systems to gain access to your sensitive data. While many security software systems are supplied with regular updates and patches, it does help to check and make sure that all new updates and security patches have been installed and are operating.

It also helps to keep up to date with any major security breaches that have happened in the business world. Should you do business with a merchant or supplier that has suffered a security breach, you should check with them to see what information was breached and then change your business passwords to be on the safe side.

3: Raise staff awareness about email scams

Just like at home in our private emails, business email accounts can receive scam emails that are attempting to trick you into giving away confidential personal data, passwords or bank details.  They often send the same malicious email to hundreds of thousands of businesses in the hope that someone will fall into their trap.

One of the most common scams are emails to business accounts stating that there has been ‘unusual activity’ on their business bank account and instruct you to click on a link to access your account. These messages are mostly fake and are simply an attempt to clear your business bank account of money.

If you are in doubt about the legitimacy of the message, then you can contact the bank or company using their official business telephone number. You can also report fraudulent messages to the company concerned for their records.

4: Check financial statements regularly

An average small business can generate a lot of transactions throughout the month. You should make a point of checking your bank statements frequently and look for any transactions that you don’t recognize or remember making.

If you see something out of place then contact your bank immediately and put a block on your business account and credit cards. Your bank can issue you with replacement cards and will decline any further online transactions from that account or spending on your old credit card from the time that your report the incident. They may even be able to recover the fraudulent expense on your behalf.

5: Use secure backup services

It is best practice for a business to use backup services that are provided by third-party security companies. No matter how hard you try to secure your business and protect it from cybercriminals, should the worst happen the last thing you want is to lose all of your critical data and sensitive information to criminals wanting to destroy your business.

You can use secure cloud back-up services to store and protect your critical data. Doing this will help you to form a good disaster recovery plan in the wake of a cyber attack enabling you to get your business back up and running once again. You should safely back up and store essential data such as:

  • Account receivable/payable files and spreadsheets
  • Databases
  • Financial accounts
  • Human resources records

Most cloud-based services will offer automatic backup on either automatically, daily or weekly. You will feel rest assured that should the worst happen, you will be able to access your data and restore your systems in a matter of minutes.

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