There’s something that you have no control over that could potentially bring your business down in an instant. It’s something which affects businesses of all size – right up to the NHS. But it’s also something which a LOT of small businesses don’t protect themselves against, mainly because business owners don’t really understand it, and think that it might be too costly.
But what can be more costly than the demise of everything you’ve built up?
And what the heck am I talking about?
It’s cyber crime. And it’s here to stay. A Government report stated that 45% of all micro/small businesses identified a cyber security breach or attack in the past year. So it’s not something that’s just affecting a few people.
But what does it actually mean, why should you give a hoot, and what can you do to protect yourself?
Cyber crime essentially covers two types of crimes. Criminals using technology to hack your systems to obtain information such as bank details, or using con tactics to trick you into handing over details or payment for them to fleece you further.
Either way, you could see your bank account cleared out, or perhaps personal details stolen which the criminals will then sell on – this could include those of your clients as well, so you have a legal obligation to ensure that you are fully protected.
One of the latest tricks is to hold your files to ransom, known as ransomware (you may have heard of this term being used) and you having to pay a hefty fee to get them back. This is a particularly popular technique being used by criminals at the moment.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Well, essentially, there are two things.
One is to look at technology such as virus protection, regular back-ups of your data and other monitoring software, and the other is education. Knowing the types of tactics that these guys use, and training people working with you to spot the signs – not opening attachments from people you don’t know, never giving out personal details over the phone and how to respond if someone says they have got your details and want to charge you a whack of money to get back.
All of which are do-able, and don’t have to cost the earth. As a starter, you should think about the following:
• Back-up your files. There are a number of ways you can do this, but one thing to note is that you should keep a copy off-site in case any natural disasters befall your office location
• Install anti-virus software and keep it updated. You know when those annoying pop-ups tell you that you need to update your system? You really need to do that…
• Install anti-spam on your email. Prevention is better than cure, and it means that you won’t get those annoying emails clogging up your inbox in the first place
• Encrypt your data. So, if worst case scenario documents end up in the wrong hands, (a lost USB, for example) then at least they can’t be read easily
• Anything that you need to get rid of, destroy it properly. Old mobile phones and laptops can be a haven for criminals, so get in touch with a reputable company to ensure all your data has been wiped
Even if you focus on the above, you will automatically be better protected. There are companies who will assess what protection you need, and set it all up for you, and it’s not as expensive as you think.
So if you do one thing this year in terms of investing into your business, then make sure that it’s this. The alternative isn’t worth thinking about.