Cyber Security 101: Steps to take to stay safe from a potential cyber-attack

January 11 2021

Many people today think that cyber security is impossibly complex with endless pitfalls. Organisations often believe that data breaches or cyber-attacks is something that only happens to larger companies. However, both large and small organisations are just as much at risk of suffering a cyber-attack.

Alarmingly, although the majority of cyber-attacks that are reported in the press are those aimed at large enterprises (British Airways and Mariott Hotels are 2 key examples), statistics show that 60% of small organisations go out of business within six months of experiencing a cyber-attack, so keeping your business secure is of utmost importance. However, this often presents significant challenges, but there are a few key steps you can take to help protect your business and reduce the risk of a cyber-attack:

Step 1 – Back up your data

Your business relies on critical data to support it, so imagine for a moment what it would be like if you had to operate your business without it. All businesses, no matter what their size, should take regular backups of their important data, and ensure that these backups are recent and can be restored quickly and easily. By doing this you ensure that your business can still function following the impact of flood, physical damage, fire or theft.

Step 2 – Protect your small business from malware

Malicious software is also known as malware and is software or web content that is designed to harm your business, such as the WannaCry attack that predominantly hit the NHS in 2017. Viruses are one of the most well-known forms of malware, which are self-copying programs that infect legitimate software. To help prevent malware from damaging your organisation, you should install and turn on your antivirus software, keep all your IT equipment up to date through patching, control how your staff use USB drives and memory cards, and switch on your firewall.

Step 3 – Keep your smartphones and other devices safe

Mobile technology is a critical part of today’s business operations, with more of our data being stored on tablets and smartphones. These devices are now as powerful as traditional computers, and because they are designed to be portable and often leave the safety of the office and home, they need even more protection than “desktop” equipment. To help secure your tablets and smartphones, you should switch n password protection, ensure that lost and stolen devices can be tracked, locked, and wiped, keep your device and apps up to date and never connect your devices to unknown Wi-Fi hotspots.

Step 4 – Use strong passwords to protect your data

Your laptops, tablets, smartphones, and computers often contain a lot of your own business-critical data, personal data belonging to your customers and details of the online accounts that you access on a day-to-day basis. It is essential that this data is available to you, but not available to unauthorised users. Passwords, if they are implemented correctly, are a free, easy, and effective way to prevent unauthorised users from accessing your devices. When implementing password policies, make sure you switch on password protection, use 2-factor authentication, avoid using predictable passwords, and ensure that all default passwords are changed.

Step 5 – Prevent phishing attacks

In a typical phishing attack, scammers send fake emails to thousands of people asking for sensitive information such as bank details or containing links to malicious websites. These emails are designed to trick you into sending money, or to steal your details to sell on, or the cyber criminals behind them may have political or ideological motives for accessing your organisation’s information. There is a limit to what you can expect your users to do, but you can configure your accounts to reduce the impact of successful attacks, check for obvious signs of phishing, report all attacks to the NCSC via [email protected] and check your digital footprint regularly.

Final Thoughts

To improve their cybersecurity, organisations should undertake the steps that are outlined here, and need to ensure that not only is their data well protected, but also that their staff are fully trained against the growing cyber threat. At CyBourn, we have a range of services that can help, giving you full peace of mind when it comes to your cybersecurity posture. We are a global cybersecurity company with a mission to address challenges in technologies and operations in cyberspace. We increase protection by providing forward-thinking transparent services for threat detection, prevention, and response.

To find out more, talk to us today.

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