Having IT support to hand is essential to any business in the 21st century when most rely on IT to some degree.
Cybersecurity is all about defending your IT equipment, IT-based services and information from unintended or unauthorised access or damage. Information is among the most vitally important assets in your business and it can take many forms including:
- Customer databases
- Client lists
- Customers’ financial information
- Company financial details
- Product designs
- or manufacturing processes
Yet all of this data can be severely compromised if you have the misfortune to become a victim of cybercrime. Cybercriminals can come from all walks of life, they can even be current or former employees, criminals who are out to steal from you, or business competitors who want to seize a competitive advantage.
These attacks can of course lead to financial losses, the additional costs of cleaning up affected systems or computer equipment and loss of business. There may well be the added headache of damage to other companies connected to your business.
Defending yourself against a determined cybercriminal is difficult, however, there is a lot you can do to lower your risk of becoming a victim with outsourced IT support and a few simple precautions we have outlined for you.
1. Use Firewalls
Firewalls protect your IT equipment in a number of ways. They will guard your infrastructure and protect your data if, for example if one of your employees happens to visit a website and downloads malware or other malicious documents or files.
A firewall will block websites that look suspicious and give you a warning message that pops up and tells you what the problem is likely to be with a particular website. In addition to preventing access, a firewall will also block unauthorised access to your business information by outsiders.
2. Have Strong Network Security
Data is the currency of the Internet and anything that has value is sought after particularly in the shadowy underworld of the cyber criminal. This hunger for data will eventually result in some kind of breach in security that not even the biggest organisations see coming. A small businesses that fails to prepare for these attacks will be open to all kinds of problems caused by computer hackers and other forms of cyber attack.
Some of the measures to put in place in order to ensure strong network security should include passwords that are changed regularly. The passwords should be hard to guess with a combination of lower case, upper case and numbers and they should be at least eight characters long. You should aim to change your passwords at least once every 3 months and these should not be shared.
It is also important to update your anti-virus software on all workstations and servers because new viruses are created every day. If possible update your antivirus automatically from the server. You should also implement an email anti-virus and spam filter to protect against viruses and spam. The common email viruses are those that become active when a person opens an attachment. A good anti-virus filter will catch and stop incoming emails that contain viruses before they land in your inbox or those of your employees.
3. Get IT Support
All businesses that rely on the Internet should have either an in-house IT support expert or be able to call upon an IT consultant for advice or to solve issues that arise in your company and keep you updated on current technology. Your IT support should make sure that all your cybersecurity measures are up to date and running and test your security procedures to make sure they are functional and protecting your important business data.
4. Keep Backups
The first and most important thing to do to protect your business is to back up your data. Cyber-attacks have the potential to wipe everything out which is devastating to a business no matter how big or small. To prevent this from happening make sure you have backups of all the important data you need for the business to continue operating should the worst happen.
Loss of information could also be caused by your employee’s mishandling or unintentionally doing something that compromises security. The faster you respond to events like data loss and carry out the necessary measures to rectify the situation, the faster your business will recover.
5. Know Your “Cyber Doors”
Cyber doors are the vulnerabilities your network has and it is good practice to close them to avoid unauthorised access. Cyber doors include your passwords and encryption keys and it is important to keep them under secure lock and key. You should also consider a separate store of important data in your business which you can store in a place that is not connected to your business.
Cybercriminals usually gain access through connected computer networks. Your business can be susceptible to attacks at the point of sale where hackers can access sensitive company records if you don’t take precautions and your IT consultant can certainly help you with this.
By Brett Tudor