The internet has allowed businesses of all sizes and from every location to reach wider audiences and offers new opportunities to work more efficiently. No matter if your company has adopted a cloud computing strategy or handles large volumes of client or customer data, then cyber security should form part of your plan.
However, smaller businesses may not be able to afford a detailed or in-depth cyber security plan, which can mean keeping your business protected is therefore seen as a daunting prospect. With that in mind, however, there are some easy ways in which you can keep your business protected from cyber attacks. Let’s take a look at some suggested practices you can implement to protect your business.
Keep Your Software Updated
One of the most important and easiest ways to keep your business protected from cyber attacks is by keeping your software updated and using the very latest version. You should look to keep any software that is utilised by your company running on the latest version where possible.
Old or outdated software can leave your business vulnerable to cyber criminals, as they can infiltrate these areas of weaknesses to enter your company and business networks in order to steal your sensitive information or data, initiate a cyber attack and, in the long term, cause irreparable damage to your business and the reputation you have worked so hard to build. Some cyber criminals have a well-executed plan in that they purposefully target smaller businesses, as they will likely know that their softwares are outdated and they can then gain access to their systems. They will go from business to business doing this, so it’s important that you keep your business protected.
It’s important to encourage your employees to check the software on their devices and update them regularly. In terms of wider company and network security, ask your IT department to monitor and schedule network-wide security updates, or delegate it to one person who runs through updates on a bi-weekly basis at least.
Limit Employee Access To Software
Following on from software updates, it’s important that, in order to further protect your business, you limit access to software from employees if it is not needed. Your employees should only be given access to specific systems or networks on which they work or need to do their jobs and day-to-day operations. It’s important to remove access from employees in terms of downloading apps or software without permission to keep your networks secure and reduce risk from cyber attacks.
Perform Regular Data Backups
As with software, it’s important to regularly update and backup data within your business too. Data encryption is one of the best forms of protection against data breaches and cyber attacks targeted towards gaining your sensitive information. As part of an effective business cyber security strategy, data backups should form part of this. This way, if your business data or sensitive information ends up in the wrong hands following a breach or cyber attack, you can be assured that you have recent and up-to-date copies.
When doing data backups, be sure to use an external hard drive or a highly secure cloud location. Cloud storage is still highly disputed as to whether it is the most secure method of protection for businesses. It is said that cloud storage offers greater protection against cyber attacks, more so than other back up options, due to the fact that it’s backed up regularly and the data is stored off-site. In a lot of cases, cloud storage is also auto-monitored for suspicious activity 24/7, With cloud storage, as opposed to an external hard drive, it can be accessed from anywhere, so long as you have an internet connection. It also makes it easier to share files with others in your organisation.
Most back up solutions enable you to choose which data you want to back up, so it could be that you want to make a copy of vital business data and documents, or perhaps you use a lot of important videos or photographs, which you don’t want to risk other people getting hold of.
Train and Educate Your Employees
With cyber security you are, in essence, only as secure as your least-educated employees. If your employees are either not up to date with cyber security training, or perhaps haven’t had it before, then it’s important to get this arranged. If your staff were to receive a phishing email or have their device compromised, would they be able to spot the signs that it was a cyber attack? If not, then this is why it’s important to ensure that your team know the different ways in which cyber criminals could trick them into revealing private or sensitive information. This could be through a phone call, suspicious email or text message.
There are companies that offer phishing simulations, in which they set up a scenario masquerading as a cyber criminal, usually through email. Then, this is sent to your workforce and it can then be easy to identify where any weaknesses lie. It could be that one department is more likely to open phishing emails than another, or perhaps employees within a certain age range. Then, you can provide further training for these individuals or groups.
Have A Disaster Recovery Plan
Having a well-planned disaster recovery plan in place is absolutely essential when it comes to your cyber security strategy and plan. If your business does fall victim to a cyber attack in the future, then a disaster recovery plan will pave the way for your business to recover, with the right steps and guidance already in place. Obviously, you can’t plan or schedule for a cyber attack, so if you are caught off guard and discover a cyber attack has taken place, or is underway, then the staff member who finds it knows exactly what to do.
A disaster recovery plan should include a strategy in order to maintain business operations throughout the incident and during the recovery process. This ensures that your business can continue to run should the incident only affect a certain area, or that in the event of a crisis, you know the next steps which can help reduce feelings of panic.
It’s important that businesses of all sizes consider the importance of a disaster recovery plan as, in a lot of cases, they’re considered when it’s too late. With a disaster recovery plan, be sure to have:
- A clear hierarchy of authority in the event of an attack
- Inclusion of directors, managers and/or partners in progress updates
- Clear instructions so that anyone can execute the plan
- Considered a multilayered and comprehensive approach
- Is regularly reviewed, practised and updated