Protecting Your Business Against Cyber Crime

Recent figures show that six out of ten small businesses have suffered a malicious breach in the past year, and half of them had a serious incident…

According to a government panel of technology experts, small businesses appear to be underestimating or ignoring the threat of cyber crime. Recent figures show that six out of ten small businesses have suffered a malicious breach in the past year, and half of them had a serious incident.

Cyber crime often causes hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage and can put small firms, which are particularly vulnerable, out of business. So what can small business owners do to protect themselves from cyber threats and online criminal activity?

The Cyber Streetwise campaign, a joint initiative between the government and industry partners to raise awareness of cyber threats and help SMEs protect themselves, has put together six key action points:

1. Install updates

Use the most up to date versions of operating systems, web browsers and other software as these are usually faster and have better features. Make sure you install any software updates you receive for them immediately, as the updates are often released to patch vulnerabilities identified after the initial release, and don’t forget to manually check for updates as well.

2. Use strong passwords

Passwords are your first defence against hackers. As we keep so much information online now, it’s vital to make passwords as strong as possible, reducing the risk of identity theft, fraud and extortion for both people and businesses.

3. Shop safely online

For convenience, choice and price comparison abilities, nothing beats the internet, but it’s important to remain safe when shopping online. Check a site is secure by looking at its web address (it should start with ‘https://’), use a credit card for greater protection and check online reviews via a search engine, but above all, if a site doesn’t feel right, then don’t buy from it!

4. Install and update security software

Computers, tablets or smartphones can easily become infected by viruses or malware, so installing internet security software like anti-virus on all your devices, and keeping it updated regularly, can help prevent infection.

5. Avoid scams

Cyber criminals take advantage of the anonymity of the online world and use it to deceive, hack and steal wherever the opportunity arises. Sites like Action Fraud and Get Safe Online are good sources of online scams in circulation and it pays to regularly visit to keep informed. Most scams are either phishing or hacking scams, so learning to recognise the signs means you can avoid them more easily.

6. Monitor your online privacy

Social networking sites are a great way to keep in touch and stay informed, but make sure that you know what you’re sharing and who you’re sharing it with. Check your privacy settings on networking sites like Facebook, never upload anything you wouldn’t want the world to know and always make sure you log off after use.

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