Protecting your small business from cyber crime
We often hear about big businesses falling victim to cyber attacks such as hacking. In 2016 Uber came under attack by hackers, compromising the personal data of around 2.7 million UK users and drivers. More recently in June this year, a hacker accessed the accounts of Pizza Hut’s “Hut Rewards” loyalty scheme members. Some personal information was compromised and hackers even used some members’ points to receive free pizza.
While it’s mainly the big brand names that hit the headlines, unfortunately small businesses can also be at risk.
There are a number of potential cyber threats, including but not limited to:
- Phishing – a fraudulent attempt to obtain an individual’s personal information, by posing as a reputable, trustworthy entity. For example, telephone calls or emails pretending to be a bank and requesting account details or passwords.
- Malware – or “malicious software” refers to a programme or code which is designed to attack or disable a device in order to gain control of the user’s operations.
- Ransomware – a type of malware which takes over a user’s device and the data held within it, refusing to give back control unless a ransom is paid.
How can you protect yourself from cyber crime?
As a small business owner, taking small steps against cyber-attacks could save you a lot of hassle, money and even your reputation. For example:
- Back it up ‒ if you store customer information on your electronic device such as contact details, quotes, job information or payment details, you should regularly back up your data. Keeping backed up data separate to your main device, for example on a USB stick or hard drive, is a good idea so you can still access it in the case of an attack.
- Protect your device – there are lots of antivirus software available to purchase or download to protect your device. Do some research and find the right one for you. Be careful when downloading apps and only use approved app-stores to be sure they’re safe.
- Think smart – if you receive an email from an address that you don’t recognise, take care when clicking on links or opening attachments. If you’re not sure, contact the sender to find out what it is. When it comes to potential phishing attacks, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Consider additional insurance – if you store a lot of sensitive or client data on electronic devices, a cyber insurance policy can provide extra protection against cyber-crime.
Protecting yourself and your devices doesn’t have to be time consuming or daunting. Being aware of the risks and being cautious can be a great place to start.
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Source: National Cyber Security Centre – https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/collection/small-business-guide
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