How can your business stay secure online?
Many small businesses fail to take notice of their online security practices, blindly assuming that the worst will not happen to them.
However, with almost half of UK businesses having experienced a cyber-attack or breach over the last 12 months, the threat of cyber-crime is, unfortunately, ever-present.
With an average loss of £4,000 per company, the impact of a potential cyber breach can certainly prove detrimental, not only for your small business, but for the customers and clients whose data you hold too.
Moreover, the recent introduction of GDPR adds an extra layer of urgency to ensuring sound data security practices are met, since businesses could face fines of up to 20 million euros for non-compliance.
Northdoor, UK-based IT consultants which specialise in data protection and storage, IBM power systems and GDPR compliance, outline the key ways to protect your business from potential cyber-crime.
Unsurprisingly, the top reason as to why security breaches occur within organisations is the use of poor passwords. As such, they need to be as strong as possible so as to prevent unauthorised access, and strict password policies should be put into place as soon as possible throughout the company.
Passwords need to be unique, meaning employees should not be using the same (or similar variations) passwords across multiple accounts – this is a hacker’s dream scenario! Instead, use a variety of long-tail passwords, which contain a mixture of letters, symbols and characters.
Where possible, two-factor authentication processes should be used, particularly if sensitive data is involved. You can also protect your business further by investing in a password management software, such as Zoho Vault, which safely stores and encrypts passwords, while only granting access permissions to certain individuals.
Install and update software
We cannot stress enough the importance of installing company-wide anti-virus and firewall software. These will ensure online data is safe from unauthorised programs, bots and spyware attacks.
However, such software is only useful when kept up-to-date with the latest versions, which is why turning on automatic updates is wise. If these are not available, be sure to regularly schedule in update and maintenance checks.
It is more than likely that the vast majority of your employees will not require access to sensitive data. As such, it is a good idea to limit access to sensitive information within the company, so that only the key business stakeholders have permission. This again helps to reduce the risk of such data being a victim of a cyber-attack. You can carry out a business audit to determine who has current access and make amendments where necessary.
Having robust offsite back-up options for storing company data is vital and serves two core purposes; firstly, to acquire your back-up data if something were to go wrong; and secondly, so that any cyber criminals cannot gain access to all your information.
Back-ups can be on physical devices like hard drives, or better yet, through modern cloud storage systems. Cloud storage is affordable, simple and means that data is kept physically separate from your business location, helping protect your company from attacks.
There is no point spending time, effort and resources on securing your data unless you can guarantee your employees are taking the proper steps to protect it too. As such, training all your staff on correct data uses and security best practices is essential for preventing common human errors from taking place.
Even when companies have invested in the latest tools and top security measures, they are still at their most vulnerable when staff are ill-informed of potential risks and how to mitigate them.