Many companies rely on internet applications for the day-to-day running of their business. These can range from simple email communications to the management of more complex business processes and procedures.
If you think about the sheer amount of data and sensitive information transmitted every day over the internet, it’s easy to imagine what kind of playground this is for those who make a point of using the internet for more malicious activities. For the last three decades, cyber criminals have been using their wealth of skills and knowledge to hack into computer systems and as new technologies have emerged, so have their pernicious methods.
The current target of these attacks seem to be SMEs. Whereas large corporations will have top notch cyber security in place, smaller businesses are leaving themselves vulnerable with less than adequate protection and an irreverent mindset. However, SMEs are proving to be ripe for the picking as they have the sensitive data, trade secrets and often cutting edge innovation that is very enticing to those who make it their objective to cause harm.
Let’s look at some of the ways cyber criminals can attack your business:
Malicious software (Malware)
You’ll usually find this type of attack in a phishing email, where you may be asked to click a link and the software installs itself on your system. Some software like Ransomware can encrypt your data, making it inaccessible and requiring the payment of a ransom for a key to decrypt the data.
This attack allows a hacker to access your network and, once they’re in, they have complete access and control over your sensitive data and systems. Hackers will often go after specific information like the credit card information or bank details of customers.
Denial of service
This often happens when cyber criminals send large quantities of data to your network, causing them to be negatively affected and creating a system crash.
Cyber criminals may pose as an employee or boss of a firm and use their email to mislead others into following financial requests. Human error is often the main cause of breaches in security or loss of data.
The good news is there are many ways that SMEs can protect themselves
1. Be aware
Update your knowledge on current malicious trends that are doing the rounds in order to keep abreast of new cyber-attacks.
2. Educate yourselves
Train yourself and your staff on ways to spot potential cyber-attacks and how to make good decisions about what they do online. You should formulate a risk management procedure to deal with any activity that seems suspicious or unusual.
3. Improve security
Use secure passwords made up of three or more random words, containing upper and lower case letters, numbers or other keyboard characters. Ensure staff protect their devices by following safe working practices.
4. Backup your systems
One of the most important things you can do is have a backup of your system and this is across the board from the main servers to individual staff devices and computers. Most systems can be programmed to automatically backup at the end of each day.
5. Invest in anti-virus and malware software
Make sure you install this software on all company devices and install all the updates as they become available. The updates will ensure that you have the most recent protection against new threats.
Your ability to defend your business online depends on these fundamental and easy to implement solutions. There is no excuse for leaving your business vulnerable. You can take action now to ensure your survival and continued success.