Every business, regardless of its size, needs a cyber security strategy. In fact, cyber security should be a prime concern for everyone from individuals and small business owners to big business and government. Cyber-attacks, database breaches and other cyber security issues cost Australia more than $1 billion a year, a figure that continues to grow.
For business owners, any vulnerability in cyber security has the potential to cripple your business. However, there are ways to guard against attacks and mitigate damages. If you want your business to be secure start with a solid foundation in cyber security policies and practices.
How Vulnerable Are You?
Cyber security is a critical business issue. According to the latest research, 80% of CEOs in Australia rate cyber security as a top investment priority, placing it in their top five business risks.
Online scams, identity theft/fraud and attacks on your computer systems or websites is a problem that makes all businesses vulnerable. Information at stake include:
- Employee records and/or patient applications.
- Customer records and personal information.
- Intellectual property.
- Financial records.
- Business and marketing plans.
This can be because of:
- Computer hardware and software infected from viruses.
- Theft or authorised access of computers, hardware and mobile devices.
- Attacks on third party systems and business technology and websites.
- Email spam with viruses.
Businesses are affected through financial loss, including disruption to operations (the biggest potential consequence) and reputation damage. The costs of getting systems up and running again, downtime and investment loss can be significant.
Here’s how you can survive potential threats and make your business less vulnerable:
Make Your Business Cloud-Ready
Cloud computing can make your data more secure.
Safety in the Cloud shines light on advanced systems and how they can represent a dynamic approach to cyber security risk. Applications and data maintained in the cloud can be more secure than data held in on-premises corporate systems.
Cloud computing benefits businesses with lower costs, improve scalability of business functions and increases accessibility. With 24/7 advanced monitoring systems and restricted access, data can be better defended against threats.
This comprehensive monitoring enables you to learn from the behaviour across corporate activities and identify potential risks. Cloud computing can detect vulnerabilities and patch immediately, which is crucial to mitigating security issues.
Create a Cyber Security Policy
A cyber security policy is one of the best ways to prepare for a cyber-attack. It outlines the assets you need to protect and informs all employees of their responsibilities.
Your policy should cover potential issues and provide actionable steps for staff. Include guidelines for email standards, passwords requirements and social media and internet access. Ensure there are clear instructions on how sensitive data must be handled and where and what business information can be shared.
Include a disaster recovery plan and evaluate the likely risks associated with various types of cyber attack. Tailor the disaster recovery plan to different cyber threats, such as data loss or corruption, or malware infections.
Well-devised cyber security polices will help guide employees in the use of technology and information. Consider liaising with your IT company to help formulate policies.
Invest in the Essentials
With the Internet of Things (IoT) growing steadily and cyber criminals increasingly targeting trusted third-party service providers, businesses face new cyber security challenges daily.
To guard against cyber-attack:
- Improve password security.
- Update software and computers on a regular basis.
- Backup data regularly and create have more than one back up copy of important information.
- Move your website to HTTPS. Google encourages all businesses to adopt HTTPS to ensure a secure and private online experience through authentication, data integrity and encryption.
- Monitor third parties by assigning temporary passwords to see who’s connecting to your network and why.
- Use multi-factor identification.
- Change default passwords on all devices.
- Use a firewall.
- Plan for mobile devices through automatic security updates that require a company password to access networks.
Employees are the weakest link in a company’s security. Business owners need to expand their cyber security awareness programs beyond acknowledgements of policies.
Train employees to build awareness and educate staff on secure behaviours in the workplace. It’s crucial all staff are taught how to use the security available to them and limit activities on non-trusted networks.
A cyber security policy is necessary, but raising awareness and offering education will get staff from reading actionable plans to truly understanding what’s expected of them.
You can do this by setting up weekly discussions and evaluations for current security initiatives. Keep everyone aware of social media scams, phishing and other hacking campaigns.
Having a well thought-out and implemented cyber security strategy is crucial to protecting your business.
Assess your security vulnerabilities today and start building awareness, implementing policies and educating staff about cyber security to minimise cyber security threats.