This post is addressed to all of those small business, the businesses who have an email account, a laptop, an accounting package, a couple of smart phones and tablets and a desire to utilise them to their best. So I am talking to Tradies, Mom and Pop businesses, small sub-contracting businesses and micro businesses.
Welcome to the digital world and it is nothing like the real world. The digital world can be and is a very dangerous place. The criminals only have to get their attack right once to win. We have to protect ourselves and your information all the time.
Most cybercrime attacks in the digital world use malware to target all connections to the internet through automated systems. These automated systems make up 85% of attacks and they are happening all of the time. 18 computers/devices get compromised every second through these automated systems and although they may not have anything of importance on them the actual hardware can be used to target others on the Internet. This in the long run costs you money in traffic or reputation.
Here is the best way to protect yourself:
Every password that you use has to have the following features.
- They have to be more than 8 characters long,
- use numbers, letters and symbols and
- have to be unique for every web site or location that you need a password.
- Your email account is the keys to your kingdom, if you lose access to it then you are in very big trouble.
Using cloud technology
Cloud technology has come a long way in the last 3 years. In a business sense we can now do a large amount, if not all, of our business in the cloud. From cloud based CRM for client management to accounting software for billing and invoicing. From web based email to project management for managing projects they are all there in the cloud.
The good thing about the cloud is that most of the products are accessed through a web browser and can be accesses from any system that has browser capability. Although the underlying platforms security is managed by the vendor it is the user’s responsibility to have a secure password to ensure that no one else can access the information.
Bank accounts and credit cards.
There are so many ways that a criminal can gain access to your bank accounts. A key logger through a virus or malware. A RAT (remote access Trojan) that can actually take over your digital device and do whatever it is programmed to do.
But the bank accounts are not the only problem. Pay wave is becoming a target for criminals, to a level where an RFID scanner can access your credit card, in your wallet, from 30 feet away.
End point protection
All devices that have a connection to the Internet have to have some sort of personal protection. You can go with a licensed copy of an anti-virus or you can go with a free system, no matter what they have to be protected at all times. We recommend the free AV – Forticlient as it does most of things that you need.
In addition to real time protection you also need to to a regular scan of the whole system.
How annoying is it when the system comes up and tells you that it has updates to apply. This is a good thing. The systems are updating code that has been found to have errors or inaccuracies in it that will allow an attacker to gain full control of your machine, phone or tablet. These errors are what malicious code targets through viruses and worms.
All systems use subsystems like Java and Adobe and these are also regularly updated by their manufacturers.
Backing up / business continuity
Even when you think that nothing can go wrong, that when something does. Having all your information in the cloud, email, accounts, CRM or project management, what happens if you can no longer access your information? How long will your business last without email, or the ability to invoice clients.
This is why some level of backup, disaster recovery and business continuity is required. Thinking through to a point where if this happened what will my business look like, how will it work is very important for the everyday operations of the business.
When it comes to cyber and digital security, what happens if you get a virus from an email on your laptop, or visit a website and get a malware infection on your smart device? Where is a copy of your schedule, or your contacts? This is why you need some level of backup.
Paranoia and awareness
Have I instilled a little bit of paranoia in you yet. To tell you the truth, that is good. On the Internet everyone is targeting you, so in fact you are not actually paranoid, just being very aware.
Small operations have enough to worry about when it comes to business. By being aware that cybercrime is a legitimate threat to that business is important. Being aware of the problem means you will make additional decisions based on those threats.
Roger Smith is the CEO of R & I ICT Consulting Services, Amazon #1 selling author on Cybercrime, author of the Digital Security Toolbox and author of the SME Digital Security Framework. He is a Speaker, Author, Teacher and educator on cybercrime and how to protect yourself from the digital world.