Everywhere you turn, people are on digital devices, connected to the internet, surfing away… but do they pay as much attention to their online security as they should? PAUL HOBDEN offers tips to stay protected online.
There’s no denying that we live in a connected world and that the internet plays a vital role in the running of most businesses.
Think about this – would you consider running your business and opening new premises without insurance? Of course not. You’d be worried sick that something could go wrong. In the unfortunate event that it did, your business could suffer immensely.
Business insurance serves to offer peace of mind in such instances and your attitude toward your online safety should be no different.
Nearly 20% of all cyber attacks target small businesses with 250 or fewer employees and about 60% of those businesses close within six months of being hit. Stay on top of online trends to ensure your business is protected against cyber threats and data loss.
Here are five important aspects of online safety to consider.
Routine back-up – Did you know that a large percentage of businesses that lose their data go under within six months of it happening? So, how would you recover from the loss of critical information? An easy way to circumvent this, is online back-up. This can be done on physical hard drives and servers on your premises, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a contingency plan in place. Making use of a cloud storage solution, like DropBox or Google Drive, will go a long way in keeping your data protected.
- Change passwords regularly – What makes up a strong password? The convention on this is fairly simple: it should be at least eight characters long, contain a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Avoid personal names and numbers and remain diligent about changing your password regularly, every six months should suffice. Never use the same password for every website you access and don’t write it down somewhere it can be easily found. Your password is your first line of defence.
- Install anti-virus software – At minimum, you’ll need to ensure you have up-to-date, reliable anti-malware and antivirus software installed and running to safeguard your internet connection as well as all your machines. While not advisable, the various free options available out there should be good enough, as long as you couple it with dependable protection (not to be confused with antivirus). Once the above software and firewalls are up and running, it is important to constantly update everything so that you are protected.
- Secure machines and lock WiFi network – Physical loss of machines through theft or damage poses great risk to businesses. Determined criminals resort to burgling your premises, so make sure the security is up to scratch. Another common, but often overlooked vulnerability these days, is your WiFi network. If you’re using WiFi, update it to the latest encryption standard and disable the service set identifier (SSID) broadcasting function on the wireless router. Ensure you use a strong password as noted above. There is a technique called “wardriving” where hackers drive around scanning for unlocked or poorly protected networks.
- Train staff on security and online safety. You could end up having the virtual version of Fort Knox protecting your business, but there’s no accounting for the security vulnerabilities that uneducated staff members represent. Implement a cyber or network security plan – if need be, hire a security consultant to come in and lay the groundwork. Your company should have some sort of security protocol in place.
- Paul Hobden is the head of small business at MWEB.