Staying Safe Online – Navigating The Minefield

For small and medium sized business, staying safe online and protecting your data has never been more important. With data thieves targeting small businesses and breaches becoming more public, you might be wondering how you can protect your business and stay safe online with such a minefield of options and problems ahead of you. Never fear, we have a few tested tips and tricks for you to cut a clear path through the risks and enjoy safe online computing.

Protect Your Systems From Malware 

Malware is one of the number 1 threats to all users online, so ensuring your systems are protected should be your first step. In the same way you wouldn’t leave your back door unlocked at night, you will need to put barriers in place to stop the malware from finding its way in. You can do this at 2 levels – network and machine. At the network level, you should have a strong firewall, catching anything trying to get through via the internet. You should also have a secure anti-virus programme in place on each machine within the network to stop any malicious programmes that do make it through the firewall from infecting the machine. Installing anti-spam on your mail client will also help reduce the risk of employees clicking on an infected link in a phishing email.

Policies And Procedures

Many businesses think that because they are small, they don’t need to have any kind of policy in place for IT use. The size of your business doesn’t matter to a cybercriminal – you will still have data they can use. So even if there are only 2 of you, make sure you have written an IT policy that includes at least:

  • What programmes or applications can and can’t be installed onto company computers.
  • Require strong passwords for all employees.
  • Proper use of technology and the internet within the business.
  • Education about email communications, including what should or shouldn’t be opened and forwarded.
  • Appoint a ‘go to’ person for IT issues and instant reporting
  • Enforce consequences for breaching the policy.

socialUnderstand Social Media 

As business take to social media to promote their offers and services, this too opens up your business to risk. Social media is here to stay, so empower your employees with best practices and guidelines so that no one accidentally gives away access or confidential information. Decide wo can speak on behalf of the company and only allow those employees to use your business social media accounts. Clearly define for all employees what constitutes confidential data to prevent accidents. Provide clear guidelines for social media use and a forum to develop them in. Don’t create barriers, instead use it as a discussion and a place for people to bring ideas or concerns about the businesses social use. But above all, be smart about what you publish. Only publish information that can be spread far and wide, and only share more sensitive information with people you trust, in a more secure setting than social media.

Protect With Passwords 

The big downside of having so many accounts and applications is that people tend to forget passwords, so instead they will use one password for everything. Make it clear that everyone within your business needs to use strong, unique passwords for everything, and set up a regular schedule for changing them. You can use programmes online to generate extremely strong passwords, and you can use applications like LastPass to help you keep up if you have a lot to remember. Strong passwords provide yet another barrier between you and anyone trying to infiltrate your systems, so make sure they are super strong and changed regularly.

Keeping your business safe from online crime can be a challenge, especially when you have so much else to worry about. If you need advice on cyber security for business, or would just like some more information about the points we’ve covered today, get in touch with one of our representatives for a free consultation.