Article

Keith Tully
Keith Tully 2 June 2016
Categories Technology

Irish Businesses Targeted by Hackers – Reducing Your Risk of Attack

Cyber security is currently being tested to its limits, with the Internet of Things bringing many challenges in this respect. Calls for additional measures to protect small businesses are increasing, but what can you do immediately to reduce your risk of attack?

Figures released by corporate law firm, William Fry, reveal the true extent of ‘hactivism’ suffered by Irish businesses. During the past 12 months over 80% of businesses in Ireland have fallen victim to cyber crime, and almost half of the attacks took four months to detect.¹

Before we make a few suggestions, let’s look at the type of risk you’re facing as the owner of a small business.

Threats to security:

  • Breach of confidential or sensitive business information, resulting in a loss of confidence by clients or consumers
  • Infiltration of malicious software into your system
  • Unknowingly transferring computer viruses to other businesses and customers
  • Denial-of-service attacks, often targeted at ecommerce businesses, resulting in an inability to gain access to the website

Here are a few ideas to help you mitigate these risks:

Educate staff on all types of cyber threat

Lack of knowledge on the part of business owners and their staff is often capitalised upon by hackers, allowing them to gain access to a network. One of the first lines of defence, therefore, is specific training and education on how to spot the warning signs of attack.

You may be able to find free courses online, which tell you about the dangers of clicking on suspicious links or opening attachments in emails, the importance of double-checking every URL prior to inputting sensitive business information, and of never revealing passwords and PINs.

Use strong passwords and data encryption

Data and personal information stored in databases or on your system should be encrypted. This includes the data on mobile devices used by employees, as well as on office computers. Regularly updating passwords should be another baseline of defence. It’s recommended that each password contains a good mix of letters, numbers and symbols within at least three random words.

Scan your system and download available software updates immediately

Software updates often include additional protection against cyber attack. They should be downloaded as soon as they become available, and your entire system scanned regularly for potential problems. You can pre-schedule a scan to be carried out at a specific time every day, or on certain days of the week.

Install anti-virus software

All devices used for business should have a full internet security system installed, including a strong firewall, anti-malware and anti-virus software. Again, updates to these systems should be downloaded to cover the threats of new or emerging types of cyber crime.

Insure your business against cyber attack

According to Newsweek, only 2% of larger businesses in the UK have taken out insurance to protect themselves against cyber crime, with the figure for smaller businesses being “close to zero.”²  

The use of third party hosting by smaller businesses opens up the likelihood of cyber attack, but cyber insurance is now widely available and offers the financial protection needed to remedy a potentially catastrophic event. 

Developing a reputation for safeguarding customer data will enhance your business reputation, so be as motivated as the hackers and take immediate steps to protect it.

Keith Tully from Real Business Rescue, is a leading corporate insolvency specialist. He knows what it takes to keep struggling businesses afloat and has 25 years' experience advising directors in financial distress.

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