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Keeping Your Business Safe Online

by  David Dwyer on  17/04/2017

Staff Training & Awareness Are Key To Avoiding Cyber Crime

You have a lot to think about when you run a business, whether you’re on your own or employ hundreds of people.  You can definitely do without IT problems adding to your worries.  With all the scams, frauds, phishing attacks and other cyber crime around today, keeping your business safe online is becoming more important than ever.

Currently there’s a spate of false invoices being emailed to businesses, and some of them are succeeding in collecting money because the people who open the emails haven’t been taught basic safety precautions.  You may have heard about $100M being defrauded from 2 US companies, one of which is prominent in the Social Media world.

It’s vital to have everyone trained and kept up to date on internet security and the latest social engineering scams; it’s especially important to make sure that employees know who you deal with (so they don’t open emails with invoices from people you don’t) and the details your bank will ask for if they get in touch by email or phone.  Encourage staff to question things that seem irregular or fishy – better to be wrong than defrauded.


All your computers, including mobile devices, should have strong password protection and access to them should be carefully controlled.  This is especially important with staff who take devices home to do work; the number of laptops and mobile phones left in trains, busses and taxis is huge, and there’s no guarantee you’ll get the device back.  It’s crucial that the information contained on the device is safe. 


Staff using public internet access, for example in coffee-shops or airports, should be particularly careful what they work on and avoid accessing any confidential data.  Password-protected hotel internet access should also be treated as insecure, since many people are using the same source.


What would happen to your business if your computer network was hacked or infected with a virus?  Would your data be safe?  Backing up data used to be very tedious and time-consuming but most back-ups now happen automatically at pre-set intervals, without you even being aware of them, and keep your data safely on the cloud (which has the added advantage that your staff can access the data wherever they are, provided they have the relevant passwords).  Data should be backed up every day, at least, and preferably every hour or so.  That way, if disaster does strike, you’ll never have lost more than a small amount of work.


Your software should always be kept up to date; most programmes have an option to update automatically, and it is sensible to allow this.  Updates may cause your system to run a bit slowly at the time, but many contain security patches that help you avoid known problems, so it’s not wise to ignore or postpone them. 

It should go without saying that all your software should be original and verified, with the correct licence: pirate software is one of the major causes of computer infections.  It’s just not worth the hassle to cut corners with pirated software.  It’s worth mentioning here that pirate software is quite different from open-source software, which is usually safe.

Redundant programs and apps should be totally erased from all your devices, as should all data when you dispose of a device.  A study in 2012 found that 65% of second-hand hard drives still had personal data on them; a thief’s charter, if ever there was one.  It’s not just a question of deleting and emptying the recycle bin; data can still be recovered from a hard drive after it’s apparently disappeared.  You need to use dedicated software for your specific operating system.  You could of course, take the hard drive out of the machine and destroy it physically, but that’s a little drastic.

However, recycling the whole machine is definitely an option, since there’s not likely to be much resale value in the average device by the time you’ve been using it for a few years.  Get the hard drive clean before you send it to the recycling centre, though – you never know who’ll be taking it apart.

There’s only space in this article to touch on the huge subject of business IT security.  If you want more advice, we’d be happy to help.  Just give us a call.  And we’d love to hear your experiences and tips – please share your insights below.

Cyber Essentials, Cyber Security, Cyber Security Vulnerabilities, Security, Social Media Scams, The Evolving Web
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