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24/12/2020

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How Businesses Can Protect Themselves from Cyber Threats

With the majority of business, financial, and social interactions taking place online there has never been a more lucrative time for cyber-criminals to try to infiltrate your systems. With such high-value data available online, cybercriminals are not going to be going away any time soon. 

The business of hacking is also a fast-moving one, meaning cyber security has to be one step ahead of the criminals at all times. Although the infrastructure is there to protect businesses from cyber-crime whether organisations actually implement the systems or not can make the difference between being cyber secure or vulnerable to attack.  

How can companies protect themselves from cyber-attacks? 

Preparation is the key to cyber-attack protection and therefore knowing what the top security risks ) make it easier for your company to protect against them. The most common cyber-crimes that could threaten your business include: 

  • Phishing – Where an apparently legitimate looking website or email encourages the user to divulge sensitive information. 
  • Hacking – Infiltration into both emails and entire networked systems. Read our guide on How to Prevent Hacking here. 
  • Malware and ransomware – Where software is loaded onto your system and can encrypt or corrupt your data. 
  • Social engineering – Building a relationship with the ‘victim’ to gain trust and then ultimately useful information.

Once you are aware of the threats you can then develop a security policy to protect your company from them. By following these simple ways to prevent cyber-crime you can reduce the threats to your business. 

  • Staff training – By training staff on what they can do to be more security-aware can make a big difference. Training on how to protect against cyber-attacks can include: 
    • Having complex passwords and not writing them down. 
    • The dangers of phishing emails and smishing texts.
    • The escalation procedure if they are concerned about anything.
  • Staff culture – ensure staff have password protected hardware, and don’t leave screens accessible to third parties onsite in the office or in their home working environment. 
  • Keep software updated – Software needs to be updated regularly to ensure weaknesses and bugs are fixed. Often this can be automated centrally so users don’t have to do anything. 
  • Install security software – All hardware should have up to date anti-malware, anti-ransomware and anti-virus software as well as a firewall. These should be updated regularly. 
  • An effective asset-management system – This ensures that the whereabouts of all hardware (PCs, laptops, mobiles etc.) is known and can limit the potential risk of mislaid hardware, although with mobile devices all staff should have passwords enabled and be aware of the procedure should they lose it. 
  • Threat monitoring – Most cyber security support companies like CiS can offer round-the-clock threat monitoring which can identify potential threats before they materialise and can therefore block them. 
  • Monitor access – When setting up staff on the network ensure they only have access to the things they need and things they are authorised to access. 
  • Clear onboarding and offboarding procedures – Setting up new starters with the right permissions and access are just as important to security as ensuring ex-staff members no longer have access to the company’s network. 
  • Incident Response Plan – If you should get attacked, you should have an incident response plan in place which identifies what to do, who should be doing what, and who should be contacted. If the procedure is clear the threat can be neutralised quickly.

For further advice go to our guide on how to maximise network security.

How can you protect business data against security threats? 

Cyber attacks can be disruptive and can cost money and lost time with the company network being down – but there can be the added threat that client and company data is in the hands of an unauthorised third-party to do with as they will. 

So, in addition to doing everything possible to prevent a cyber-attack in the first place data protection should be the next key thing on your list. Some tips to protect your data are;

  • End to end encryption – When sending data over the internet by encrypting it only the recipient can access it as they will have the encryption key. This means it can’t be infiltrated on the way by unauthorised third parties.
  • Restrict admin rights – By ensuring that admin rights to data are only provided to authorised personnel can protect data from becoming lost, deleted or accessible to unauthorised people. 
  • Multi-factor authentication – If all data systems are protected by multi-factor authentication, even if hackers have acquired the password, they would still need biometric data, a one-off code or a physical authentication key to gain access.
  • Don’t rely on cloud security – When storing data in the cloud don’t rely on the inbuilt systems of the third-party supplier. Add extra layers of your own security. 
  • Always back up data – Even if data is stored in the cloud, you should always back up data regularly and store it somewhere different from your normal network. 

Can cyber-attacks be prevented? 

While not every threat can be prevented it is better to protect your business as much as possible and increase your chances of preventing cyber-attacks. One of the biggest threats to cyber security is complacency. Many small businesses feel they are not ‘interesting’ enough for the cyber criminals as they are too small. This is simply not true – cyber criminals are interested in any system they can gain access to. According to the Small Business Committee, more than 70% of cyber attacks were actually with small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. 

A report from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, also stated that in 2019 there were attacks on 32% of all UK companies. 

So, although it is not statistically possible to 100% protect you from an attack, if your company is proactive when it comes to cyber security, implementing as many measures as you can and training your staff to be vigilant then you will reduce the risk of being the victim of a cyber-attack. You are only as strong as your weakest link – identify what that is and strengthen it!

If you need help identifying your security weakest link and improving your company’s protection against cyber crime then contact the team at CiS today.

 

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