Online security and tech safety are barely out of the news at the moment. Whether it’s Facebook’s continuing issues with so-called ‘fake news’ or the accusations of hacking and cyber warfare by foreign nations, the integrity of the digital world has never been more open to question. And this has serious potential implications for our own online security.
Like it or not, technology is now an inescapable and central necessity for any business. Whatever sector or field you work in, a significant proportion will be conducted, controlled or enabled in an online space. The company accounts and HR will be managed using computer software, PR and customer interaction may take place in the world of social media, even the office birthday list will probably be kept up-to-date in a spreadsheet!
Therefore it is essential… no, vital, that your business is always a step ahead of the potential pitfalls and diverse dangers the internet can unleash. A robust and detailed Cyber Security Policy is a must for any serious business and to help formulate your own, here are our five key principles to build on:
Cyber Tip 1 – Never Open Suspicious Emails
A cyber tip as old as time. Well, as old as email! But there’s a reason it is so important. You will know from personal, as will as business use, that spam messages and phishing remains one of the most frequent tactics used by cyber criminals. The reason being that it still works more than you’d believe. Thousands of pounds are stolen every month from people tricked into divulging financial information, and it is so easy to combat – as long as you stay cyber-smart. Never, ever provide details to anybody you do not know, by email or phone. When receiving emails from what appear to be credible sources – HMRC for example – look out for clues that it may be a scam. Uncapitalised names, random spaces, grammatical mistakes and unstructured layouts are all indicators of fraudulent intentions. Just remember, if even the slightest alarm bell rings – take the time to check. Speak to somebody on the phone, a colleague or a supervisor if you’re in doubt. It could save you a lot of hassle… and a lot of money.
Cyber Tip 2 – Be careful when using multiple devices
Modern working practices mean it is often unavoidable to have to work across multiple devices. A laptop, tablet, smartphone and desktop PC are probably all in your office armoury. While this is obviously essential, there are things you must consider. The security systems in place may not be robust across all of the devices – especially if personal gadgets are used to conduct business affairs. So where possible, stick to the minimum amount of devices in your business – and definitely keep financial and other sensitive data in one central point behind the best cyber defences you’ve invested in.
Cyber Tip 3 – Encrypt sensitive data
Following on from the previous tip, if you must share information around multiple devices and people, then encryption is fundamental. Applications exist on all media platforms now that easily and quickly enable you to encrypt emails, text messages and even your entire computer hard drives. And while encryption won’t stop sophisticated hackers being able to interfere and view your data, it will ensure it makes absolutely no sense to them!
Cyber Tip 4 – Always complete software updates
Pretty self-explantory this one… if your system prompts you to do a security update. Just. Do. It. Yes, it may take 30 minutes out of your morning, but it could, and will, save you an awful lot more in the event of a cyber attack.
Cyber Tip 5 – Back up your data
Another staple of the e-security playbook. Please, please, please, if you’re maintaining large reports, storing important records, working on new projects, then back the files up! Use an encrypted flash drive and always ensure they’re refreshed when updates are made. It’s so simple and quick to do, and you’ll be overwhelmingly grateful if the worst should happen and an attempted cyber attack takes out your primary system.