Hello, yes you, reading this! What do you think the chances of your small to medium sized business being targeted by cybercriminals are? Little to none, right?
Well that’s the perception most of us assume. Of course as an outsider looking in it makes sense for cybercriminals to go after the big players as there invariably is more money to be made if the hack attempt or malware is successful. However, just like running pretty much any business we have our big ticket items which are higher priced and generally acquire fewer sales, and our bread and butter offerings which are far more cost effective, acquire more sales and make up the majority of overall sales. Then it’s no surprise that cybercriminals follow that exact ethos, except their bread and butter business, is you!
There are very good reasons as to why! First and foremost, less than 1% of businesses in the UK are large according to the Department for Business Innovation & Skills.
SMEs are generally easier to target as they don’t usually have a full time cybersecurity department, they don’t necessarily use the right security, opting for the cheapest option(s), they do not update there security frequently enough, or train their staff about what things to look out for and how to go about dealing with any possible threats, as well as not training staff in how to update their own systems security.
Shockingly about 60% of small businesses that fall victim to cybercrime shut shop within 6 months of an attack.
So What Can You Do To Better Protect Yourself?
Well surprisingly this isn’t a sales pitch about our fantastic internet security services, though I just made a pitch… Oh well! There are several extremely important things you and your staff must do to better protect yourselves:
1. Internet Insurance; make sure you have yours, your clients and your staff’s best interests covered just in case. This type of insurance can cover all your company’s financial losses and help prevent you from shutting shop if in a worse case scenario. There are many offerings available online to choose from and ensure to read the fine print.
Incredibly according to findings in a study carried out by the World Economic Forum 8 out of 10 businesses do not have Internet Insurance.
2. Train Your Team(s); It’s thoroughly important that your dedicated technology expert not only keeps up to date with all of the latest internet security information, maintains all company systems to ensure firmware, software and protection is regularly up to date, but your teams are trained and kept up to speed in all that they need to know, from the different types of attacks such as Malware and Ransomware, Phishing… as well as emails from people posing as family, to WhatsApp messages which look like they may be from friends or a client with links containing a virus, and how to deal with them.
3. Internet Security Software; sounds an obvious one, but does for example your business email have its own security filtering system? Do you and your staff have internet/device security set up on your mobile phones? Is your modem and wifi networks secure? Have you updated your browser(s)?… There are many areas we either forget to secure, think we have secured or don’t think we need to have secured, for example most Apple Mac users do not have any form of internet security as they are of the belief that hackers do not target Apple products, well they certainly do, and Apple are one of the worst in discovering, reporting and for doing anything to help protect their users, instead choosing to keep quiet about any threats and quickly brushing them under the carpet.
4. Protect, Backup and Clear Out; don’t leave anything to chance, if you record and store data on a shared network for example then do not keep copies of that data on your computer, in your emails… if you need to store a copy of this information then utilise an external hard drive or USB. And ensure to empty your desktop Trash and clear any browser history, you don’t want any of your personal, private or banking information leaked.
5. Password Protection; for some unknown reason, possibly laziness, who knows? Entire office email addresses use the same passwords, what is the point in that?? You’re simply asking for trouble, if you or your tech team choose to use the same password for every email account then don’t, make sure everyone uses vastly different passwords containing at least 8 characters, using special characters (! @ # ?), numbers and upper and lower case letters.
6. Processing Money; if you take payments online or over the phone how secure are the payment gateway providers or bank processing systems you use. Do they use a secured validation system? Are they using the right protection? Can the redirect processing URL be intercepted? Fortunately the answer to these questions and more are simply a phone call away. Be sure to ask your provider how their systems work and if they are doing enough to secure yours and your customers’ private data.
7. Ask The Experts; don’t be afraid to ask, most of the time it won’t cost you anything to ask a simple question, most IT support providers like ourselves are more than happy to help and to give free advice. But don’t be afraid to put your hand in your pocket if you really need to, what’s cheap is also dear! In the long run it will cost you far more if you are not protected or kept up to speed.
Planning, protecting and maintaining your internet security systems does require time planning, prepping and instigating, but in far less time, and at far lesser cost than not having a system in place. As many of us are not Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or the like, if our users/clients data is breached they won’t necessarily moan about it and do nothing as they have no other alternatives but to use that platform, we are disposable and one of the biggest causes of reputational damage among SMEs is due to customers data being compromised.
If you do not have a dedicated in-house or outsourced techie, or feel that you would all benefit from additional advice, support or are not too sure if you are receiving the right support already then don’t leave things to chance.