Large scale cyber attacks on multinational corporations including Ashley Madison, eBay, Target and Sony have dominated news headlines in the past 12 months. Awareness of cyber crime has increased, yet smaller businesses remain unprepared for such an occurrence as they assume it’s unlikely to happen to them. In reality, small to medium sized businesses are actually more at risk than their larger counterparts, and unlike bigger companies, smaller businesses are unlikely to survive a breach.
The average annual cost of cyber attacks on small and medium-sized businesses amounted to almost $200,000 in 2010 [Symantec, 2011], with 60% of small businesses in the USA closing within six months of a cyber attack [U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology]. In the digital age where cyber security is a rising concern, how can you best protect your business against the crippling effects of an attack of this nature
1. Implement a Firewall
Firewalls control the data coming in and out of your computer systems from external sources in order to prevent unauthorised access to your network, so it’s important to have an effective one in place. A lot of operating systems come with an in-built firewall but it makes sense to invest in a reputable and dedicated firewall to ensure optimum protection. There are a huge amount of Firewalls available so spend some time finding one that best suits your business needs. Invest in implementing HTTPS or a security certificate on your website to protect customer data, especially if you operate an e-commerce site.
2. Antivirus software
Antivirus software should be installed on every business computer and device. This protects against malicious software that can infiltrate your computer, which can damage your systems, expose your computer and data, and interrupt business activity. You can find different levels of Antivirus software at a variety of price points, so look around to find one that’s best for you.
3. Protect your Wi-Fi
Wi-fi networks provide an ‘in’ for a number of cyber attackers. Ensure your business wi-fi doesn’t broadcast a network name and is therefore invisible to outsiders. In addition, any wireless network should be encrypted to prevent any invasions.
4. Update Passwords
Updating all of your business passwords every few months is a simple way to keep your data secure. Ensure any password you use is strong, by using at least 8 characters made up with letters, numbers and symbols and avoid using obvious personal information.
5. Educate Employees
Communicating risks to all of your employees is vital in protecting your business against a cyber attack. Employees should be aware of their responsibility to protect data held within your company and fully trained in digital security including best practice for web browsing and using email. A written policy on data security should be put in place.
6. Cyber Insurance Policy
Cyber insurance packages are widely available and can cover the key issues in relation to cyber security. There are a wide range of policies available to suit your individual business needs and cover a range of cyber related issues including; privacy protection, breach costs, business interruption, cyber extortion and hacker damage.
These preventive practices are essential for every small to medium sized business operating in today’s digital environment. Security is paramount, and it doesn’t take long to implement a risk reduction strategy that can protect you, your business and your employees from the potentially crippling consequences of a cyber attack.
The list of tips above is not exhaustive and we recommend that you obtain further advice from a qualified IT provider to fully protect your business.
Conditions apply for each policy and the information expected from you for a policy to trigger. Coverage may differ based on specific clauses in individual policies. Please ask your broker to explain the additional benefits and exclusions pertaining to your policy.
The information provided is general advice only and does not take account of your personal circumstances or needs. Please refer to our financial services guide which contains details of our services and how we are remunerated.