While data breaches at large, high-profile corporations tend to make the headlines, small businesses are also very much at risk for cyber-attacks. It’s easy to think you’re too small to attract the attention of cyber criminals, but this mindset could leave your business vulnerable to a range of potential threats – from phishing scams to DDoS attacks and more.
If you’re like most small business owners, you probably have no idea where to start when it comes to cybersecurity. Simply familiarising yourself with the potential risks and taking small steps to create a more secure system can make a world of difference – and give you greater piece of mind.
Here are some simple and effective security strategies you can implement from The Telegraph:
Define your needs
Using a checklist such as the Government’s cyber-essentials questionnaire can help to calibrate your thoughts. It will also highlight ways in which you may have undermined your own security without thinking.
Taking a look around you is essential, too: talk to similar companies and study the way they are being affected. Then take steps to mitigate.
You are not a hacker; you are not a computer expert; you are a just a regular human. But, there are still simple steps you can take that can make a huge difference – as Nik Whitfield, chief executive of cyber-security company Panaseer, explains. “Activate firewalls on computers and access points to the internet,” he says.
“Maintain good passwords; activate two-factor authentication for hosted software services; remove unused user accounts; and ensure only administrators have full administrative access to computers.”
And importantly: “Run a reputable anti-virus product and ensure it automatically updates on a daily basis.”
For the next 24 hours, take note of the update messages you get on your digital devices; your operating systems may be out of date.
As Dr Mike Lloyd, chief technology officer at cyber-security analytics platform RedSeal, puts it: “Operating systems are more like milk than cheese – they get worse rapidly with age, not better.
“The WannaCry attack is a perfect example of the dangers of an out-of-date operating system. Using yesterday’s technology isn’t just inefficient; it’s a great big welcome mat, laid out to invite attackers.”
So, the key message is to update – and soon.
Judge a business by the technology it keeps
In the same way you wouldn’t let unscrupulous types enter your house, you need a certain degree of diligence around the technology you allow into your business. Introducing compromised technology to your broader system carries risk.
Consider the next person who wants to charge their phone on-site; they may want to charge that phone from their office laptop, which, because it is connected to the rest of your system, could become a problem. You could consider providing staff with mobiles and computers as standard.
Short of that, every business should build a culture of security awareness. Take the load off management and instil a sense of responsibility in your staff around passwords, software updates and navigating the internet with a degree of scrutiny.
There can be no such thing as security perfection; the landscape changes daily. But with the right technology, the right habits and the right mindset, you can defend against the worst.
You’ve worked too hard to allow your company to be threatened by a hacker. Start taking cybersecurity seriously and invest the necessary time and money to protect your business.
For more business advice head to Telegraph.co.uk.