With reports of cyber attacks in Australia increasing from one every 10 minutes to one every eight minutes over the past financial year, small businesses are particularly vulnerable to data breaches and financial loss. But you don’t need to stay up at night worrying – The IT Lady‘s Louise Ridlen shares the safeguards that can help protect your business from a cyber attack.
Every day I speak to small and medium-sized business owners about their IT issues. My business, based in Sydney, is all about helping people understand technology better and feel empowered by its potential.
As businesses, we’re dealing with more and more valuable data across our systems, so cybersecurity needs to be a top priority. Here are my nine tips to improve cybersecurity in your small business:
1. Keep your work private
In this age of hybrid work where people are working anywhere and everywhere, it helps to make sure your hardware is built for security anywhere. Choose an operating system with inbuilt security features, like the Dell Latitude 5420 laptop, which has a camera privacy shutter.
2. Switch up those passwords
Time to change our old password habits like 12345 or 11111 or “password”. The easiest way for someone to get into any of your accounts is by ‘guessing’ your password. Try to think of a word or phrase that’s easy for you to remember but will be hard for anyone else to guess. Change vowels to symbols and add in some upper and lower case letters.
You can also try a password app – something like Lastpass or Dashlane – these are secure password programs and have a business feature that allows you to invite members in your company to keep both personal passwords and business passwords separately and securely. You should never save your passwords in your internet browser, these are easily hacked and particularly insecure. And if you’re entering passwords in public places, be sure no one is shoulder surfing.
3. Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication
“2FA” or “MFA” stand for two-factor or multi-factor authentication, which means each time you log into your email or an app from an unrecognised browser you will receive a confirmation via your mobile phone, an authentication app, or your email. It’s the safest way to ensure that your accounts don’t get compromised. Most importantly, ensure that your email, banking accounts, websites and social media all have 2FA turned on.
4. Use Anti-Virus software, but lookout for scams
Use Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware protection which add the extra layer of security that you need. There are plenty of good ones out there, but be careful of scam emails and pop ups telling you that you are unprotected. Don’t click on any website link telling you that they’ve scanned your computer for issues, they’re bound to be fake. There are some great cost-effective business anti virus solutions that will allow you to monitor computers in your network at the same time as ensuring they are virus free.
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5. Know how you and your staff can spot an email scam
Do not click links in an email without checking the link details first. Often scam emails will arrive pretending to be institutions like postage, delivery companies, electricity companies, the federal police, the taxation office or a banking institution. Whenever you see emails like this use the following to verify the email credibility:
- Check the spelling and grammar. Most often scammers are not that great at spelling, or are from a different country, so it’s a sure sign there’s an issue with the email.
- Without clicking on any links, use your mouse to hover over the link. Hovering over the link will pop up the hyperlink destination. In the example below you can see that the email is from AMEX, but hovering over the link takes you to a website that is NOT American Express.
- Lastly, check the email address of the sender. It might say American Express in the sender line, but the email address is often something similar but not quite right, like click.amex.com.
6. Invest in a secure server for your business
With staff accessing data from different locations, you need a robust architecture to protect your data. Mitigate the risks of cyber attacks through choosing a powerful server with intelligence, automation and recovery tools, like Dell Technologies’ latest 15G PowerEdge Servers. For help on what type of server may be right for your business, visit the Dell Technologies Explains Servers page.
7. Safely close suspicious windows
A very handy trick on a PC is using the Alt + F4 combination keys. Often malicious software attacks are built into the close button on a window which might pop up unexpectedly on a website. So when you press the X, rather than shutting down the window which is what you expect to happen, another window is triggered to open up. If a window looks even remotely suspicious, use the Alt+F4 button to close it down. Alt+F4 is a safe way of shutting down a window without triggering another response.
8. Keep on top of updates
You might think updates are annoying and too frequent. But updates includes security fixes along with enhanced features and better compatibility with devices. They help fix bugs and crashes and make sure you are using bug-free versions. Windows will usually let you choose a time for the update, pick a time that suits you, and go for a walk and get a cup of coffee.
9. Backup regularly
I left this for last because it’s the most important. If you are storing documents on the hard drive of any computer, they are vulnerable not only to computer malfunction, but to ransomware demands. Imagine if you lost all your important documents, family and holiday pictures! Ransomware viruses are designed to encrypt your hard drive and hold you to ransom because they know how important these things are to you. The only way to beat these criminals is to make sure you have backups so they have nothing to get from you.
With these essential action points, you’ll be in a good place to handle whatever may, or hopefully may not, come your way.
Louise Ridlen runs The IT Lady in Sydney.
Need some help to power up your business? A Dell Technologies trusted advisor can help you find the right tech solutions. Visit Dell Small Business Solutions for more.
This article is brought to you by Kochie’s Business Builders in partnership with Dell Technologies.