According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, cybercrime costs Aussie businesses around $42 billion annually. Should your company fall victim to a data breach, the average cost to resolve the issue is $2.82 million.
Then you’ve got the threat of physical break-ins, vandalism, and property crime, all of which can set you back a considerable sum.
While it may seem daunting, staying on top of security is essential for any small business. We’re covering ten easy-to-follow tips to safeguard your company from harm.
Update Your Software
Out-of-date software will perform poorly and—more importantly—leave your network vulnerable to a slew of cybersecurity-related headaches. As hackers discover new vulnerabilities, software developers patch their programs in response. Regular updates protect your network against these ever-evolving threats
The most crucial programs include your operating system, firewall, and antivirus software. Nonetheless, it’s wise to ensure all your applications remain up-to-date. Delegate an employee to spend a few minutes each week identifying and installing updates.
Install a VPN
Adopting a Virtual Private Network is an affordable way to protect your business from prying eyes. While individuals primarily use VPNs to achieve anonymity and circumvent geographic restrictions, a company can adopt one to protect sensitive information.
A VPN extends a private network across a public network, allowing employees to send and receive encrypted data safely. It’s an excellent alternative for small businesses that can’t afford to set up a secure internal network. Furthermore, the tool allows staff to retain high-level protection while working off-site. Invest in a paid subscription, as free VPNs are too restrictive for professional use.
Use Antivirus Software & A Firewall
An antivirus program is your first line of defence against malicious files and cyber-attacks. The software identifies and quarantines files that may contain ransomware, browser hijackers, worms, spyware, Trojan horses, backdoors, and other nasty intrusions. Purchase a paid subscription from a reputable provider. Next, ensure it’s installed—and kept up-to-date—on every company laptop and desktop.
While antivirus software safeguards a specific machine, a firewall will protect your network by monitoring incoming traffic for potential threats. Install a firewall in conjunction with your antivirus for optimal protection. Most vendors integrate both systems into one software suite.
Strong Passwords and Two-Factor-Authentication
Cyber crims can gather personal information or use brute force attacks to break through a password-protected network. To safeguard your business, every team member should adopt minimum password standards. Longer passwords (at least eight characters) with symbols and numbers are harder to crack. Avoid incorporating names, birthdays, or other personal (and potentially obtainable) information.
It’s smart to use unique passwords for every application. A password manager will remember them on your behalf and let you know when they’re due for a change—every six months is ideal. Consider two-factor authentication to obtain an extra layer of protection for sensitive information.
Wi-Fi Security and Payment Card Best Practices
With Australia rapidly moving toward a cashless society, card payment facilities have become essential for every business. However, as these systems are susceptible to cybercrime, it’s crucial to ensure yours is secure.
Check your Wi-Fi network is set to the WPA3 security protocol, then ensure it’s private and has a strong password (see above). Never run an EFTPOS machine or a similar payment system through a public Wi-Fi network.
Train Employees on Cyber-Security Best Practices
While teaching your team to become seasoned cyber-sec experts isn’t practical, a little security training can go a long way. Educate your staff on cyber security basics, like identifying phishing scams, which account for 90% of malware attacks.
Although phishing mainly occurs via email and SMS, some hackers may phone your organisation to obtain passwords or other sensitive information. Encourage your employees to treat suspicious incoming communications with a healthy dose of scepticism.
Conduct Regular Backups
Backing up your business-related files will protect you from a system crash or ransomware attack. Should you neglect to perform this critical task, you could lose access to vital data and suffer significant operational issues.
The ideal backup frequency depends on your business type and the financial impact of lost data (most Aussie companies aim for daily or weekly backups). Instead of restricting backups to a single network-enabled machine, use external hard drives or a cloud storage solution. Designate an employee to conduct this task and run periodic audits to ensure compliance.
Hire a Managed Service Provider
Most small businesses don’t have the in-house expertise to manage their own IT systems, including cyber-security protocols. Rather than retaining an expensive specialist on your payroll, consider outsourcing your IT security (and other network-related tasks) to a managed service provider.
A reputable provider will take a proactive approach, identifying issues before they arise and providing customised advice. Minimised downtime and improved security make these services a prudent investment for many Australian SMBs.
Install Physical Security Systems
Although cybercrime seems all the rage these days, theft and vandalism still pose substantial risks. Small businesses are especially susceptible as they often lack the resources to get back on their feet.
If you don’t frequently welcome the public, implement an access control system (an intercom, a pin code access machine, or a pass card-activated turnstile) to ensure only authorised visitors can stroll inside. A wireless CCTV system integrated with a motion-sensor alarm offers a potent deterrent against break-ins. Post labels around the premises to ensure would-be robbers know it’s there. High-powered floodlights are effective at scaring off late-night intruders.
Should you store valuable products or information on site, it may be worth investing in perimeter fencing and a mobile security patrol.
Consider Fog Cannons
Alarms and security cameras may deter burglars. But they can’t prevent determined thieves from ransacking your office or store. As a full-time security guard is prohibitively expensive for most small businesses, a fog cannon offers an affordable alternative.
When an intruder triggers the alarm, the innovative device blasts dense white fog into the room, filling a standard shopfront in as little as 12 seconds. The non-toxic spray makes it impossible to see and forces the hapless criminals to flee.
Get Help with Your IT Security
Need assistance protecting your business from cybercrime?
Don’t risk a catastrophic data breach by managing your IT security in-house. Enlist an industry-leading Managed Service Provider to handle the ever-evolving complexities on your behalf.
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