Top tips on how small businesses can approach cybersecurity

In partnership with Symantec.

All this shows that cybersecurity issues affect everyone, even small businesses, who as a critical part of the UK supply chain, are becoming ever more vulnerable to cyberattacks as a way to reach larger corporations. 

In the UK they experienced 22 per cent of all targeted cyberattacks in 2013 – so they need to make sure they have adequate protection. Even though IT security is not always a high priority for small businesses, there are lot of tips and tools available designed especially for them.

Tip one: Choose the right software to protect your PCs, servers and devices 

There are plenty of tools on the market aimed at small businesses that can help prevent problems in the first place. Don’t limit this protection simply to antivirus – make sure you’re protected against the latest virus and malware threats in real-time and undertake an audit of all the devices that are connected to your network as these can act as routes in that are all vulnerable to attack.

Tip two: Everything is backed up and your team know the rules

All your data should be regularly backed up and you should know how you can access it (either having a copy of your backup stored offsite or through a secure online service) in the event of an attack or system downtime. It is also advisable to draft a basic set of security rules so that everyone knows what can cause a danger to the business, such as ensuring all laptops are password protected (and ideally encrypted) and you don’t use the same passwords for all services.

Tip three: Remote access workers are protected

Remote working is an important benefit for many small businesses, however, security shouldn’t be treated any differently to being in the office. Make sure that employees are connected directly to your servers, use a virtual private network (VPN) and ensure their data is encrypted and backed up in the unfortunate case a mobile device or laptop is lost or stolen while working away from the office

Tip four: Customer data protection is critical

Any breach of a customer’s data can hugely damage the trust they place in the business that holds it and its long term reputation. Hackers often target customer data so it’s critical that this data is stored correctly and protected from hackers, viruses and natural disasters. Securing your website with SSL certificates can increase customers’ confidence that the information they give online is safe.

Tip five: Monitor your marketing

Marketing is important for organisations of any size, however using external online marketing tools and services such as email, websites and social media can make small business employees more vulnerable to scams. For example it’s easy to open an email and click on a link thinking it’s taking you to a genuine social media site, or if you outsource a microsite to a supplier to run a promotion, is that supplier secure? Make sure the right protection is in place both at your offices and with partners who are hosting your site or services, as well as giving your team guidance on using social media sites.

Orla Murphy is EMEA small business strategist at Symantec.

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