Cybersecurity is more of a risk than it ever has been for businesses of all sizes. As we move towards a digitalised way of working and become more reliant on digital transactions and information, there are more risks from the darker side of the digital world. Security breaches and data loss can cost companies thousands of pounds, and you need to ensure you are protected.
According to a recent Government survey, four in ten businesses and one in four charities were subjected to data breaches or cyberattacks in 2021. With this in mind, it's worth investing in technology and processes that help protect your business.
Properties and their contents can be protected with security cameras, alarm systems, and even on-site security personnel should you require them. But how do you protect your business from threats in the virtual world when there is nothing to physically check?
Read on to discover the essential cybersecurity risk management steps for your business.
Every computer and online application requires a password or an answer to a security question to access it. Using strong passwords makes a successful cyber attack difficult for hackers.
A strong password is a password with uncommon words of sufficient length that contains a mix of numbers, characters, and uppercase and lowercase letters. The most commonly used passwords include 123456, qwerty, password and 1q2w3e, which can be easily guessed due to their pattern or location on a keyboard, so avoid this method of remembering passwords. You must avoid using the same password for all applications too.
Remembering a series of complicated passwords will be difficult, especially for a business with platforms that many users may need to access. It is a good idea to ensure each user in your business has different login and password information, but if this is not possible, or it is a shared platform, you should only give access to those who need it. Password managers help users securely keep track of passwords. Users will be able to create a log in with a unique password or pin, and this is all they have to remember as other passwords they require will be generated through the management system.
As mentioned, you should ensure all platforms have individual users where possible; this means you can disable access should a user leave or no longer require the account without everyone having to remember a new password.
Suppose your company requires sensitive information about a client or customer to be kept on file. In that case, there should be a protocol regarding who has access to the information and how it is stored securely. Any critical access should be locked and only accessible to top-level users such as the CEO and other trusted staff. There will be less fallout from a breach of a user with lower access requirements by doing this.
Many systems also allow you to disable copying and saving information to external devices such as USBs and external hard drives, which limits the possibility of a cyberattack from within your company too. Whilst we don't want to believe it will happen, it can, so it is better to be protected.
Reliable anti-virus software will help protect your network against malware and other malicious software. This software will detect and remove any malware, adware and spyware that tries to install itself on your system. Most anti-virus software will also include a spam filter, which scans through and filters harmful downloads or emails that find their way onto your system. However, if yours doesn't, be sure to install this too.
Anti-virus is also a basic need for any cybersecurity system, and it stops unwanted attacks on your security network. There are many options out there, all with different features, but you will be able to find something that works for your business.
A firewall is different to anti-virus software, but they are often used simultaneously. A firewall protects hardware and software, so you will require a firewall if you have your own physical servers within your business. It also blocks and deters viruses from entering your network, unlike anti-virus software which cleans viruses that have already gained access.
Any platform that requires a password should have a backup solution to gain access, especially if you are on an unknown device. This will be a secondary measure for authenticating who you are, such as a text message to your personal mobile number with a unique code or an app you need to open on your smartphone.
Measures such as two-factor authentication aren't always available, but if you can use them, then do. Often the second measure is a unique code which changes after 5 minutes and stops any hacker in their tracks as they don't have access to the alternative app or your phone messages.
Any software you use should be updated regularly, as developers constantly improve and update their systems to be more secure against the latest technological advances, bugs, and vulnerabilities.
In addition, you should keep a backup of all digital files so that you have access to the information should your system become compromised. This could be done manually or on a schedule, but the data should be backed up to a secure external hard drive or a cloud-based system to prevent access.
A clear and concise cyber security policy will help your employees understand risks and identify them should they need to. Ensure that your employees have read and understood the policy. All employees should know to avoid suspicious emails and where to flag any issues they experience within the network.
You can hire external consultants to come in and offer advice on where your systems may have vulnerabilities and give training to staff. However, as this would be an expense for the company, it is best to have one or two members of staff trained in some level of data protection and cybersecurity risk so that they can continue introducing the policy and procedures to new members of the team.
Make sure you have a disaster recovery plan in place so that if the worst does happen, you know that your business can continue operating with minimal disruption.
Part of this will be the backup of the data previously mentioned. It will also include a business response plan, as a data breach could require informing customers of the breach and what information has been exposed.
The most significant aspect of your disaster recovery plan should be how your business can continue while recovering so you do not lose funds. Of course, it may be that the hack resulted in a loss of funds if it included any fraudulent activity or financial crime. Having dedicated cyber liability insurance can help protect you from losses and cover any lawsuit costs that may arise from the hack.
Cyber liability insurance should be a consideration for any business that operates online or holds sensitive information about customers. We recommend it is included within surgery insurance and office insurance policies, amongst others.
As insurance brokers in Bolton, it is our role to ensure you are fully protected from any risks you may encounter through your business operations, including physical threats such as fire and theft and virtual risks like cybersecurity. If you believe your business could be at risk of a cyberattack or data breach and want to be prepared for this, you can request a no-obligation quote from our team.