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Cyber Attacks – what can small businesses do to protect themselves

Okay, I’m going to start with a question.

What would happen if a hacker decided to launch a cyber attack against your business? Would they be successful? Would they easily gain access to your company’s sensitive information? Or would their attempt fall flat?

Believe it or not, cyber security isn’t just a concern for large businesses. It’s something that small business owners need to pay attention to.

Consider these statistics Cisco Small Business Security report:

  • 52 percent of cyber attacks target small business.
  • Only 14 percent of small businesses rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities and attacks as highly effective.
  • 60 percent of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack.
  • 52 percent of data security breaches are caused by acts of malicious intent. Human error or system failure account for the rest.

If you’re a small business owner, you can’t ignore these statistics. You don’t want your business to suffer because you didn’t take the appropriate steps to protect it.

You have worked way too hard to allow your company to be threatened by a hacker, right? In this post, you will learn why it’s important to focus on cyber security. You will also learn how you can protect your business.

What is a Cyber Attack?

A Cyber Attack is a socially or politically motivated attack, which is carried out via the internet.  These types of attacks can target the general public (you may have heard of data being stolen), public or private organisations.  They are carried out through the spread of malicious programs or viruses, people setting up fake websites or sending scam emails.  The aim is to steal personal data or business information, which can cause detrimental damage.

You may have heard of one of the latest cyber attacks, known as “Ransomware” this is a malicious program that locks a computer’s files until a ransom is paid.

Should you be worried?

Cyber crime and these types of cyber attacks are becoming more commonplace and there is no sign of them going away, but becoming more sophisticated and detrimental to businesses.  Many of the newer cyber attacks target your personal computer as well as networked computers in businesses.  Therefore it something that everyone; not only business owners or IT departments should be aware of and take the necessary precautions to protect your hardware and personal data.

Many small businesses might take the view “it won’t happen to me”, but it poses a real threat; we just don’t hear about all the cyber attacks on small businesses compared to larger organisations.  Hackers are just as likely to attack small businesses, as they know that often there is no cyber security in place, or they won’t think it will happen to them – making them an easier target. 

How you can protect yourself and your business

1 – Updates:  One of the recent cyber attacks infected computers running Windows operating systems.  Updating your system is one of the most important things you can do.  The updates address any security vulnerabilities in their existing software helping you stay safe.  Using a computer that you haven’t updated is like leaving your front door unlocked and inviting intruders in! 

Your computer will automatically receive updates if you are working with a supported Microsoft operating system such as Windows 7 or later versions.

2 – Firewalls:  A firewall is like a security system for your computer, which controls the data coming in and out to prevent unauthorised access.  Ensure you have one install on your computer to help reduce the chances of a cyber attack.

3 – Anti-virus software:  Alongside your firewall, you should think about installing antivirus software on your computer. The firewall will protect against hackers, but the antivirus software helps protect your computer against viruses and malicious software programs.   

4 – Email Filtering: In addition to your anti-virus software you should also have some form of email filtering in place. This helps remove spam/virus emails before they reach your computer.

5 – Keeping your guard up:  Many ransomware attacks come in the form of emails.  Many of these attacks are reliant on the end user activating it i.e. clicking a link, or opening an infected attachment.  Keep your wits about you when it comes to trusting the content in a document and always question whether it is genuine or not. 

6 – Educate staff:  On that note, it is important to educate staff members about what to look for as well.  Ensure they know the signs to look out for in emails and back up their work as well to prevent any attacks.

7 – Back up your data:  Having effective backups of data on an external hard drive or cloud-based service is advisable.  If you get ‘locked’ out of your system, at least you will still then have access to all your data and business can continue.

8 – Plan:  In the absence of an I.T. team or a company like System I.T. on hand to help it might be a good idea to have a plan in place, should a cyber attack occur.  Think about all of the above and implement them sooner rather than later.

9 – Speak With An Expert: Yes, I know you don’t want to do it. But you should. Paying an IT security consultant might seem to be a little expensive. But it’s a great investment.

If your house sprung a leak and water was building up in your kitchen, would you try to fix it yourself? Probably not. You would probably call a plumber, right?

Why? Because if you’re like most of us, you don’t know the first thing about plumbing. The same principle applies to IT security.

If you’re concerned about cyber security, you should consider speaking with an IT security expert. An IT security consultant can take a look at your business and determine the best course of action when it comes to protecting it from cyber attacks.

An IT security consultant can identify areas where your company is vulnerable to cyber attacks. They can make recommendations that will help you keep your business safe. When it comes to cyber security, you can never be too careful. If it’s in your budget, hire an expert. You’ll be glad you did.

Network Consulting & Development is a Palo Alto Networks and Cisco partner that can offer full support for your entire business in order to prevent cyber attacks, mail spoofing, viruses, malware or any other type of attacks.

We can configure advanced protection firewalls that can scan and avoid any type of attacks and in conjunction with an advanced antivirus on your end devices your entire infrastructure will be secured.

Summing It All Up

If you’re a small business owner, you need to take your cyber security seriously. Don’t assume that your company isn’t a target just because you’re not a big business.

You owe it to yourself, your employees and your customers to make sure that your business is secure. Preventing cyber attacks should be one of your top priorities. If you take the right steps, you won’t have to worry about endangering your business.

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