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  • Cyber security and small businesses: Here is everything you need to know

    April 12, 2023

    As an Australian business owner, you may have heard that cyber security should be top of mind when it comes to protecting not only your mission-critical data and operations but also your customers’ information and other sensitive material. However, understanding the nuances of how best to protect yourself can feel overwhelming – particularly for those who are just starting out with their own small business. This blog post is here to help; giving comprehensive advice on everything from basic tips to advanced techniques to ensure that your small business remains secure in a rapidly evolving digital world.

    What is Cyber Security and why it is important for small businesses?

    Australian small businesses need robust cyber secure measures in place to overcome their security challenges

    Put simply, cyber security refers to the practice of protecting networks, systems, and data from digital attacks. As a small business owner, it’s critical that you understand the importance of cyber security and its associated risks, as even a single security breach can have serious implications for your business.

    The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) has reported a rising concern with cyber attacks targeting small businesses. These malicious attacks take the form of phishing scams which are emails disguised as legitimate messages, typically containing malicious software or links that can compromise computers and networks when opened. Unaware users may unintentionally invite in malware and other risks, contributing to an estimated cost of $29 billion each year for Australian businesses.

    With this in mind, having a strong cyber security strategy in place to protect your business is essential.

    Why are small businesses more vulnerable to cyber-attack?

    Small businesses are particularly vulnerable when it comes to cyber security due to a number of factors. Firstly, they tend to have more limited resources available to them for cyber security protection. Therefore, investment in cyber security strategies can provide small businesses with the necessary safeguards against digital risks that could otherwise cause severe economic harm should a cyber attack be successfully executed on their systems. Secondly, many small business owners have the false belief that they won’t be targeted by criminals, as they believe their organisation to be too small or insignificant. However, this is not the case; as outlined by the ACSC, small businesses are just as likely to be targeted as larger organisations, and often suffer greater financial losses due to a lack of cyber security measures.

    What are the essential elements of a small business cyber security strategy?

    Big business, medium businesses and government authorities also need to keep their business information safe from potential risks

    There are several essential elements to any small business cyber security strategy, including:

    • Implementing strong passwords – Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols to create passwords that are difficult to guess.

    • Updating operating systems and software – Make sure you use the latest operating system and software, as these will have enhanced security features.

    • Educating your employees – Ensure that every employee is trained in cyber security best practices, such as not opening suspicious emails or downloading unverified software.

    • Investing in cyber security solutions – Consider investing in cyber security solutions such as firewalls and anti-malware software to help protect your data.

    • Regularly backing up essential data – Ensure that all critical data is backed up regularly and stored securely.

    Tips on managing your cloud and mobile security

    Cloud-based services, like Google Drive and Dropbox, are becoming increasingly popular for small businesses. While they provide many benefits, such as ease of access, scalability, and cost savings, they can also be vulnerable to cyber-attacks if they aren’t managed properly. Below are some tips for managing your cloud and mobile security:

    • Use two-factor authentication – Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to enter a code sent to their mobile device or email address.
    • Encrypt data – Make sure any sensitive information stored in the cloud is encrypted so that only authorised users can gain access to it.
    • Monitor usage – Set up regular audits to monitor how cloud-based services are being used, so that any anomalies can be quickly identified and dealt with.
    • Mobile devices – Don’t forget to set up a mobile device management system to keep track of all the devices used in your organisation and ensure they are secure.

    How to assess your risk level and develop a cyber security plan

    Cyber threats are constantly evolving, so it is important to assess your risk level and develop a cyber security plan. Each company is unique, so there is no one-size-fits-all cyber security plan. Consider factors such as how much cyber risk exposure you have, what cyber threats you might face, and how you need to protect your digital assets from cyber criminals. Working with a cyber security expert that can help you identify and mitigate risks is a great way to ensure that your business is adequately protected.

    What should you do if you’ve been the victim of a cyber attack?

    If your small business has been the victim of a cyber attack, it is important to act quickly to minimise the damage. Here are some steps you can take:

    • Contact your cyber security team/expert – Immediately enlist the help of your cyber security team or experts to investigate the attack and stop it from spreading.

    • Notify affected customers – If customer data has been compromised, you should contact them as soon as possible.

    • Change passwords – Make sure to change all passwords related to the affected system, both for the system itself and any accounts related to it.

    • Monitor your system – Continue to monitor your system for suspicious activity.

    Don’t attempt to remove malware or restore data yourself – This is best left to cyber security experts, as attempting to do it yourself could make the situation worse.

    Key cyber security tips for business owners

    Many businesses and other government authorities should be aware of the common threats of cyber attacks and stay a step ahead by working with cyber security experts

    Taking preventative steps towards cyber security can help you–and your customer–to enjoy peace of mind and keep data secure. At the most basic level this means using strong, unique passwords for all customer accounts; using two-factor authentication processes for customer logins; monitoring customer activity to look for suspicious behaviour or attempts to access customer data without authorization; and keeping customer data secure through the use of encryption technologies. Additionally, if customer data is stored online the use of firewalls and antivirus programs is essential. Finally, imperative security measures include training employees to spot potential vulnerabilities and giving them access only to specific areas as needed. Adopting these key tips can go a long way towards keeping customer data safe from malicious cyber threats.

    The importance of training staff on cyber security measures

    Cyber security is an increasingly important part of data management for any company. Despite this, many organizations’ staff don’t know the best practices when it comes to data security and protecting sensitive data from potential data breaches. Investing in training your staff on cyber security measures, such as data encryption and secure password policies, can save your organization from a data breach or data loss in the future and allow you to maintain a secure working environment. Additionally, by providing quality training on data security and regularly updating procedures with new technologies, you can ensure that your staff has the knowledge needed to keep your data safe. Training staff on cyber security measures is key for ensuring data safety and preventing possible data breaches.

    Final thoughts

    A robust cyber security system can ultimately save your small business time, money, and reputation. As we have discussed, no matter how big or small, every business needs to take steps to protect its digital assets from malicious actors. Doing so will not only protect the business from data breaches but will also help you maintain customer trust and loyalty. By investing in cyber security training for your staff and partnering with an experienced and reliable cyber security team, you can ensure that your small business is protected from the latest malicious threats.

    At Tech Seek, we support small businesses in Melbourne’s North and West to protect their data and digital assets. Our range of IT services encompasses everything from virus removal and protection to offering your company migration and integration services. We ensure that your business’s mission-critical IT systems are maintained securely by employing full-time, in-house staff. Moreover, if urgent assistance is required there will be no waiting on the phone or email response; we come out to you! Need to boost the efficiency of your business operations? Our IT Infrastructure Audit is here for you! If your company has anywhere from three to fifty staff and is located within 15 kilometers of Moonee Ponds, then our experts are ready to identify which technology solutions will be most beneficial in driving successful outcomes. Our IT Infrastructure audit is free of charge, so contact us and find out how you can make your business more efficient, cost-effective, and secure today!