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How Not to Get Hacked - Cyber Security Advice for SME Owners

Last week we brought you some information on hacking and the government-backed initiative, Cyber Essentials, that small to medium business owners can use to perform a self-assessment that will allow them to take steps to protect their company from cyber-attacks.  As we pointed out, Cyber Essentials Certification will cost around £300, a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides.  Today, as promised, we’re going to take a look at some of the measures that you can take to make your business safe from hackers.

  • INSURANCE – the first step is to check your business insurance policies to see if you’re covered for security breaches.  If not, get in touch with your insurance provider and arrange for cyber-security insurance to be added to your policy.
  • PASSWORD STRATEGY – make sure that all of your team members are required to create passwords that include a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, along with numbers and symbols.  If your system is difficult to hack, an attacker is likely to move on to another small business owner who hasn’t secured the systems.  Make sure you speak to your workforce about cyber-security and stress how important it is, or, better still, arrange for a cyber security workshop that will train employees on how to thwart a cyber-attack.
  • REGULAR UPDATES – update all of your computers regularly, including desktops, laptops and mobile devices.  Make sure your operating systems and web browsers are always up to date to protect against the latest threats.  Make regular checks for new versions of software, including security software.  Software stored on your computers will need to be updated whereas cloud software should be automatically updated by the provider.  If your employees use mobile devices for work purposes, make sure they use updated apps, including a security app.
  • BACKUP – back up the data on computers regularly so that if information is stolen or goes missing you have another copy.  You can use encryption and passwords to protect all your important information.
  • LIMIT ACCESS – make sure only authorised people have access to company computers, mobile devices and accounts.  Never allow anybody to borrow company computers or devices.  Employees in different positions may have different access to technology and employees should never share information about their accounts.  Make sure every employee has an individual login.
  • SECURE YOUR WIFI – your business Wi-Fi can be an easy way to access data so make sure it is secure and that only your employees can access it.  Set up the Wi-Fi in a way that prevents employees from knowing the password.  If you need to provide open Wi-Fi access for customers, set up a separate network so that unauthorised people cannot join the business Wi-Fi and access your files.

Taking the time to secure your data is essential for small business owners.  If you don’t have the necessary knowledge to do this yourself, your IT person should be able to advise you on this.  If you don’t have an IT specialist, then you may want to consider getting advice from a cyber security expert.  While this may sound like a costly proposition, the expense involved will be negligible compared with the expense you could face if your business is hacked.