Cyber crime is one of the fastest-growing criminal activities in the world. It can take many forms, including theft of data, extortion, and disabling of a company’s website. Cyber criminals can act alone, but most operate as part of organized groups. The fact that modern businesses rely so much on the internet means that they are a prime target.
Protecting a business against most forms of cyber crime isn’t difficult. Prevention is a combination of knowledge, understanding the risks, and having proper processes. Once the foundations are in in place, a business owner must keep up to date with new cyber threats and ensure defenses remain effective.
The following tips will help to protect a business against cyber crime.
1) Understand the risks to your business
Many business owners think they have little exposure to cyber crime, but widespread use of technology and reliance on digital data means there are risks everywhere. A simple audit of business processes, people, suppliers, and systems can reveal potential threats. Installing antivirus software or outsourcing to a cloud IT service aren’t adequate protections. You must understand the weaknesses in your business and how hackers could gain entry to your systems or data.
2) Avoid exposure to viruses and malware
Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, but their methods for attacking IT systems are relatively standard. Most hacking incidents start with some form of virus or malware. Opening email attachments, downloading games or music from unknown sites and clicking on links in emails are the most common sources of computer viruses. Anti-malware and firewall protections can help, but knowing how hackers initiate these attacks can prevent most problems.
3) Have strong password protections in place
Passwords remain one of the most efficient ways of preventing security breaches and cyber crime. The key is using sufficiently long and complex passwords so that hackers can’t guess or work them out. Using your children’s names or obvious combinations like “Password123” opens the door to cyber criminals. Create different passwords for each account, and never write them down.
4) Set rules and guidelines for employees
Every employee has a role to play in preventing cyber crime. Anyone working with company data or accessing the Internet via company IT equipment is a risk. Employees should be given written guidelines setting out what steps they must take to prevent hacking and cyber attacks. Restricting employee access to non-related work activities online, especially on gaming sites, is an effective way of reducing the threat of malware.
5) Update antivirus protections regularly
Cyber security experts state that failure to update software is one of the most common causes of security breaches. Cyber criminals find ways to bypass antivirus and other protections over time, and updating them means you have access to the latest security patches.
6) Consider the risk of smartphones and mobile devices
Increased use of smartphones and tablet devices mean they have become a key target for hackers. Antivirus and other protections should be kept up to date on mobile devices as they are with desktop computers and laptops. Gaming apps containing malware are an increasing threat. Downloading free software and apps from unknown sources can lead to serious problems.
7) Back up data regularly
If the worst happens, having processes in place for backing up data can be a quick way to get a business back up and running. Data should be stored securely on a separate computer or server to ensure it can’t be accessed or corrupted in a cyber attack. Backing up to a cloud storage service is a good option for smaller businesses.
New forms of digital crime are emerging every year, but the tactics described in this article can protect against the vast majority. Having an awareness of the threats and accepting that your business is a target are fundamental to survival in the digital age.
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