Several major organisations and businesses, including British Airways, Sony, and the NHS, have been high-profile victims of cyber attacks in recent years.
These attacks make the headlines because of the companies involved, and it is easy to believe that cyber criminals would not target a small business like yours. However, the reality is that cybercrime affects businesses of all sizes, with around 65,000 cyber crimes targeted against small businesses in the UK each day.
Small businesses don’t have the hefty cybersecurity budgets that corporations have. So, what is the best way to provide cyber security for your business without such a budget?
There are several measures you can take to secure against cybercrime that will cost you nothing. These measures address the two aspects that can result in cyber breaches; human error and technological failure.
Upgrading software installations on your IT equipment and servers are the first things that need to be done. Hackers often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to gain access to your systems. This tactic was employed against the NHS in 2017 when they suffered an attack using the WannaCry ransomware. The NHS had failed to upgrade to the latest version of Windows, leaving their system vulnerable to hackers.
Using data encryption is also something you can do to keep your electronic assets secured. This practice should be second nature if you are dealing with sensitive customer data such as payment details. Free encryption tools are available online, including virtual private networks (VPN). These tools will convert your data into a format only readable by you and other intended users. To everyone else, it will be unreadable.
Address Human Errors
It is often through human error, neglect, or lack of understanding that allows hackers a way into your system. Your staff should be trained in the need for cyber security and necessary protection measures, at least. You should also foster a culture wherein your employees take cyber security seriously. A simple click on a malicious email attachment, and you could be in for a lot of trouble. It is not merely your staff that you need to look out for. Contractors or other third parties that come to work with you need to adhere to your cyber security regulations and standards.
Third parties are often exploited as a vulnerability to your system to allow access to cyber criminals. You may have worked hard to achieve the best cyber security in your sector, but one sloppy contractor could render that hard work useless. One method of limiting human error is to restrict access to sensitive material. Restrictions should be in place so that only those who need access can gain access to such information.
There is a common misconception that hackers only use software to carry out cybercrime. Your hardware is as much at risk as your applications and programmes. A lost or stolen laptop or tablet, in the wrong hands will render the information on that device as being compromised. You should ensure that all your portable IT equipment is encrypted and that you can track your devices in the event they go missing.
Cybercrime is a serious threat, not just to large corporations, but to all UK businesses. Adopting the measures highlighted above is a good starting point for your cyber security, and they will put you ahead of many companies. Eventually, you will create an environment where cyber security is second nature, hopefully making the hackers look elsewhere for their easy pickings.