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The statistics for Cyber Attacks and Hacking incidents on Small and Medium Businesses are increasingly surprising even for Cyber Security experts. Consider the following data:
These facts paint a dire picture. The feeling of being targeted by a Cyber Criminal is terrifying, but simple and consistent efforts will greatly improve your defences against such practices. In this article, we take a look at the top 7 steps you can take to protect your business from hackers and cyber-attack.
The most important step of all, is actually starting to take responsibility for the cyber security of your own company. This means keeping up to date on current cyber security issues and making sure that they pose no risk to your company. You and your employees will always be the most vulnerable link, and no software can stop you from accessing dangerous links or bringing infected files to the company’s network. People must be educated and be aware of threats while they access work data.
The next step for all companies should be to adopt a cyber security framework. If you are starting your journey a simple Framework such as Cyber Essentials is a great place to start. For companies looking to address a higher risk maturity level NIST and ISO 27001 are recognised worldwide and provide a complete system for cyber security management. Any framework will give you the structure and set out clear objectives and goals to allow you to manage your exposure to cyber security risk.
There are a number of things you can do to make sure that your data is protected. Firstly, you should intelligently decide who/what needs access to specific datasets and make sure access control is locked down. You can also protect your data by keeping an offsite backup. In a worst-case scenario, this offsite backup could be used to restore business-critical data. You could consider using the services of a technology provider that will handle this for you, managing your entire backup regime and ensuring Business Continuity.
Unless you have the internal resources to monitor network and device access internally, it could be a good idea to contract with a third-party service provider to provide real-time monitoring, risk assessment and mitigation. This would revolve around monitoring the company firewall, and also the internal network. The vendor would continuously monitor usage, and instantly highlight any suspicious activity, before taking the proper action to protect your data. If you feel your company could benefit from these experts and would like more detail, we have an article explaining How a Cyber Security company works.
Data is only useful to a hacker if it is readable. One of the best ways to negate the negative results of a successful cyber-attack, is to use end to end encryption. In effect, everything is encrypted, at all times. Therefore, if data theft does occur following a successful penetration of your company infrastructure, the data is useless to the hacker.
If you buy in IT services from external vendors, such as cloud storage, SaaS platforms, etc. then you must monitor them closely to ensure they are managing their own cyber security effectively. If a hacker gains access to the infrastructure of a tech vendor, then they are going to also gain access to your business systems hosted by the tech vendor. An SLA needs to be established, outlining exactly what the tech vendor is responsible for from a cyber security point of view. This SLA needs to be monitored closely, and reviewed regularly, to ensure that the vendor is doing all they need to do to protect your data.
Taking steps such as these above, should not be considered as a fire and forget, one shot deal. You will need to constantly revise your cyber security procedures and processes, to keep up with the new methods that hackers and cyber criminals come up with. Best advice would be to set up some kind of cyber security working group, that meets regularly, and attempts to highlight any new or potential cyber security risks.
These steps above for a guideline on how to protect your company from Cyber Attacks. Each could form the basis of a whole article itself. They have been summarised here, so that they can help you to understand how to shape an effective cyber security strategy, that will help your business stay one step ahead of hackers and other cybercriminals. Hopefully, protecting your critical business data.
Not all of these steps will apply to every company, and there are also other steps that could apply to your own business that have not been covered above. The take away here, should be that unless you take responsibility for securing your own company data, rather than relying on software vendors and hardware suppliers to eventually fix security vulnerabilities, your company is exposed to a potentially catastrophic data breach. One that statistically, it is very unlikely to recover from, or indeed, actually survive.