Growing your business

Five Ways to Protect Your Business from a Cyberattack

05 September 2017
5 minute read

Alex Wood

With the expansion of digital ecosystems and technology, businesses are developing faster than ever. While this comes with many benefits in terms of innovation and growth, it can also leave businesses vulnerable to technological threat. This is why business online security must be a priority.

A cyberattack can result in multiple different scenarios but it usually involves a business’ computer system and networks being compromised by hackers, with the intent of causing harm. This can lead to the systems crashing, data corruption, and the risk of sensitive data (including personal and financial details) being stolen.

According to recent research, nearly 70% of medium and large businesses reported breaches or attacks in the last year. And 10% of medium and large companies still lack security controls and don’t have guidance on selecting strong passwords on company laptops.

The food and hospitality sector shows particular weaknesses in this area, despite the fact that they’re even more at risk of breaches involving loss of customer data.

Business Zone highlight the frightening reality of cyberattacks by saying, “a single hack can set reputations back as the magnitude of a cyber breach can result in severe losses to revenues.” They then go on to emphasise, “Companies need to rethink their security strategy and plan longer-term to safeguard customer loyalty.”

Here are a few tips to keep your business secure and safe online:

Install Antivirus Software

Installing antivirus software is a simple yet effective measure when it comes to protecting computers and servers. Websites and email servers can be particularly vulnerable to malicious attacks, where clicking on a potentially dangerous email link or pop-up is all it takes for a harmful virus to set in.

Choosing security packages which have firewalls, antivirus and anti-malware software means that any new threats can be immediately detected, blocked and dealt with. Remember to always ensure that you have the latest version installed so that the software can continue to scan your folders and files on a regular basis.

There are several antivirus software packages available so it’s always worth doing your research to make sure it’s suitable for your business needs.

Review Your Password Strategy

Weak passwords can pose a huge security risk for businesses. This is why it’s important to make sure that all passwords you use are strong and secure. This will make it harder for cybercriminals to hack into your systems and steal valuable data.

A good policy to have when creating passwords is to make it compulsory that they include both lower and upper case letters, special characters and at least one number. There are also other security measures that can be taken at this stage, such as setting up a two-step authentication sign-in process and prompting your staff to update their password regularly.

Backup Your Data

1 in 10 businesses admit they never backup their data, which means they’re leaving themselves extremely vulnerable in the event of a cyberattack. So vulnerable in fact that it could potentially bring your whole business down.

Backing up all your files, data and resources means that you’ll be able to recover any information lost or stolen more quickly and therefore minimise the damage the to your business. Having some sort of strategy in place will make this easier - this should include backing up your files on a regular basis, and finding a reliable and secure location to store your information. Again, carrying out your research to decide the best way to backup your data means you can choose the best option for your business.

Online accounting software Xero does this automatically, backing up your information in the cloud so that if your hardware was to get lost, stolen or broken, you can still safetly access your accounts. Xero also takes security online a step further by using a two-step authentication process at log-in, encrypting your financial data into unrecognisable code, and monitoring their servers and data centres 24/7.

Educate Your Staff

Making sure that your staff are conscious of the types of data that they have access to is also important. This will help them to take precautions when handling sensitive data and also allow them to spot any potential threats. A good way to do this is by creating some basic guidelines that can be distributed and shared amongst your staff. You could even hold a group session where you go through the risks of a cyberattack, how to minimise the threat and what to do in the event of an attack.

Oz Alashe MBE, CEO of CybSafe, a cloud based platform that reduces cyber risk says, “Education of employees and a focus on permanently changing online behaviour is part of the solution. Employees can be the first line of defence for businesses. Whether a company wishes to prevent phishing, malware, password attacks, ransomware or human error incidents, education is key.”

Consult An Expert

Although this will require a little more investment, it could also be worth consulting with an expert when it comes to improving your business online security, especially if your data and systems have expanded rapidly or you're in need of some specific advice.

An IT security consultant can run a full analysis of your business, and provide a detailed plan of action to protect your business. This can be really beneficial as starting point or if you run a larger business.

Hopefully your business will never have to experience a cyberattack but in the event that it does, these tips will provide you with the initial guidance you need!

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