No-one can afford to ignore cyber security - particularly digital businesses who rely on the latest tech. Not only is your core asset at risk from cyber-attacks and data breaches, but data management and security are now covered by a stack of legislation, like the recently introduced GDPR. Fail to put the right protections in place could mean hefty fines, reputational damage and the risk of prosecution.
Thankfully, there are loads of tools out there to protect your systems against many of the most common cyber threats, and to ensure your business stays on its feet if the worst does happen…
Anti-virus tools are critical for preventing, detecting and removing viruses, like trojans and worms. There are tonnes of options out there and you might be tempted to go for a free or cheaper standard anti-virus tool. But if you have more than a couple of employees, it’s worth investing in a business suite. These usually come bundled with a firewall, email protection and anti-spam functionalities, ensuring all your devices and locations are covered, and enabling you to control everything centrally. Check out Avast and Avira which have popular SME offerings.
Ransomware is one of the biggest threats facing businesses and, as the WannaCry and Petya attacks last year showed, it can cause untold problems if you get hit.
Luckily, cyber security providers are starting to get ahead of the problem, with various tools that can detect and stop ransomware, as well as decrypt files and clean up systems following an attack.
An up-to-date firewall will ensure that any malicious information travelling through the public internet (of which there is a lot!) doesn’t enter your private systems.
There are various types of firewalls out there, but essentially you can choose either a virtual firewall installed on your systems, or a piece of physical hardware. The latter is usually harder to compromise so could be a good investment if you are dealing with very sensitive data on a regular basis.
Anti-virus software will provide great overall protection, but it can miss some threats such as spyware and adware, which don’t act like other viruses. That’s where an anti-malware, or malware removal tool can provide additional support. One of the most popular is Malwarebytes’ anti-malware tool, which is totally free to use.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
If you have employees working and accessing files remotely, particularly if they’re abroad, then a VPN ensures their work and data is as secure as if they were in the office.
VPNs work by creating a shielded private network within the public domain, which is why they’re also popular for enabling users to access geographically restricted content (e.g. watching the BBC when you’re on holiday!)
But there are lots of options targeted at security-conscious businesses too, at a range of price points and with support for multiple devices, including mobiles and tablets.
Passwords are one of the banes of modern life – and one of your weakest points security-wise - with employees accessing countless websites and business tools every day, all with different logins.
It’s unrealistic to remember 50 different passwords, while writing them down kind of defeats the point! With a password manager, you can store them all in a central, secure wallet, enabling you to get into all your accounts with a single tap.
There are plenty of free options out there including LastPass and Myki Password Manager, and if you want something with more functionality, invest in a paid for option such as Dashlane, Keeper Security or Password Boss. You won’t regret it.
No cyber prevention or detection tool can keep everything out, which is why backing up is critical.
If your systems get locked down, damaged or destroyed, the only way you can recover your own data is through a recent back-up. You could do it the old-fashioned way, with an external tape drive or disk, but let’s face it, that’s a bit of a hassle when you want to head off to the pub.
Instead, a cloud backup solution will do the same job for you automatically. When researching the options, compare how quickly tools can recover your data, the size of data-sets they can hold, and how much encryption they have in place to protect your files. Arcserve and IDrive are good options for small businesses.
Cyber liability insurance
And of course, your last line of defence is a watertight Cyber Liability Policy, which will cover the fall-out and any costs if those cyber nasties do break through your defences.
Protecting you for breach of data protection laws (where insurable by law) and your liability for handling data, cyber cover can also provide cover for extortion, system rectification costs, plus PR expenses and financial loss due to system downtime.
It’s a risky world out there, but with these tools on your side, hackers will be hard pressed to get their hands on your data - and if they do, you’ll be ready. So, don’t leave it too late to tool up!
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- 18 October 20218 minute read
The threat of cybercrime is rising and can affect all businesses, large or small. Read our guide to how retail business owners can protect their shops from digital threats.