Cyber attacks cost British businesses £30 billion a year in terms of lost revenue and increases in IT spend; however, that figure does not take into account the breaches that go undetected. With cyber crime on the rise and after the attack on the NHS, here’s how companies can prevent cyber crime.
Regularly Backup Your Data
Data is essential to the smooth running of any business and backing up means making a copy of your most important files. It’s an essential part of IT management for a business, but it’s shocking how often it’s overlooked.
When it comes to backing up data, you need to ensure you have a copy of all of your business’ critical information. The best way to figure out what data you need is to think of what you will need to continue working if your PC or laptop was stolen.
Criminals will search for your data as it holds the most valuable information. A cyber attack can mean complete loss of your network and if you don’t have any files backed up, it will have a crippling financial effect on your business.
Ransomware will hold your data as hostage and ask for payment (a ransom, hence the name) to release the data; however, if you have recently backed your data up you will be able to access it, and, therefore, the ransomware attack won’t affect you as much.
There are three ways to backup your data: pen drive, tape and online data backup.
Pen drive backups are used for smaller backups; however, they are unreliable as they can easily be lost and you will only be able to store one version of the data as every time you back it up, it overwrites the previous backup.
Tape backup is another way to backup your data, especially if there is a reasonable amount of it. You can perform daily, weekly, and monthly backups, especially if you have a reasonable tape rotation. If you store them offsite, they are a great and easy to use backup solution for your company.
Last but not least, you can backup data online. This choice is popular as there’s no need to purchase hardware or software; you just have to pay a small monthly fee to a high-security data centre.
The process of backing up your data online is simple. You choose what data you want backing up and it is then transferred into an encrypted format across the internet to where it is stored in a secure data centre.
One thing to remember - you should always test your copied data to see if it works, as a backup is useless if it doesn’t restore properly. But a professional provider will be able to facilitate this.
Use Authentic And Strong Passwords
A strong password can slow down or even prevent various cyber attack methods.
Passwords can be hard to remember - we get it - that’s why it’s common to use relatively short passwords that tend to be something along the lines of a birthday, pet's name, mother's maiden name and so on.
However, these passwords are easy for attackers to crack. It’s also common to use similar passwords on each system you use - again, making it easy for hackers to access all of the services you use.
For a strong password, we suggest that it is at least 6 characters long and contains three types of the following:
- Lowercase letters (a,b,c etc)
- Uppercase letters (A,B,C, etc)
- Numbers (1,2,3 etc)
- Symbols (‘ ! @ # $ % etc)
For example, spell out two or three, unrelated words using a combination of the four:
Or use something completely nonsensical such as:
Remember that the longer the password and the more complicated, the more secure it will be. That's why another great piece of advice is to use four simple, easy to remember, but random words. See the image.
Update Your System Software Regularly
Updating your system can be a pain, especially if you are in the middle of a task and that notification comes through asking you if you want to update or to remind you later.
To save time, you will usually click ‘remind me later’. However, you should always update your system when the message comes through as it can affect usability, security, and compatibility with other software.
Often cyber attacks happen because security and software updates are put off until later. Ensure employees have time to do regular updates, or appoint an IT professional to update all computers at routine intervals.
You are usually asked to update due to a flaw being discovered in the software and failure to update leaves you vulnerable to potential attacks. Updating will repair the security holes, provide feature and speed enhancements, fix bugs and provide more efficient software for you to use.
Updating your software will prevent you being vulnerable to potential cyber attacks and will also allow you to get the best out of the software you’re currently using.
Have A Firewall
Every business should have a firewall, as it protects your business from digital threats. A firewall acts as a form of barrier between your internal business network and the rest of the world wide web. A firewall will prevent external users accessing your private business assets.
You can also prevent your internal users accessing certain sites that could possibly be contaminated with viruses. It’s a good idea to set up a policy that blocks your employees’ access to certain sites and other vulnerable networks.
Stronger firewalls will inspect any traffic going in and out of your network. As it is doing so, it is looking for viruses, worms and spam to block, preventing them from affecting your network.
Keep Your Browsers Updated At All Times
If you are running your business using an older or outdated web browser, you are opening yourself up to security vulnerabilities which could affect your business.
Having an older web browser means that you could be setting yourself up for attackers to download software such as spyware (Programs that record what you do on your computer) onto your network, allowing them to have access to passwords, card details and more.
Out of date browsers is a security threat because it stops them (the browser) being able to recognise certain types of software downloads as threats since it will only be able to scan for threats it recognises. If the browser is outdated, then it cannot know what modern threats it is searching for.
Increase Employee Awareness
Cyber attacks can also happen because of internal factors such as your employees, most often unintentionally. All one of them has to do is use your network and open a dodgy link then you will be cyber attacked. They may not even consider that the link they open will do any damage.
Educating your employees on what to look out for (such as: spammy emails, spammy links, and unsafe sites) will further protect you from inside your four office walls. Plus, you can also remind them to always update their computers to prevent any potential cyber attacks happening.
Learn How To Protect Yourself From Attack
With the ever growing threat of ransomware attacks, more and more businesses are getting worried. But too many aren't doing enough about it. See how big the issue really is and how much really needs to be done to protect your business. Read this free guide and make sure you understand how to defend your company and its valuable date: