How to stop most cyber attacks: address human error

It’s understandable that we get frustrated when stung by a hacker, but in truth most cyber attacks can be traced back to mistakes made by people that allowed a cybercriminal to get into a system or gadget in the first place.

Whether through responding to phishing bait, having an easy-to-crack password, not disposing of old hard drives properly or making some other error, we often leave ourselves and our businesses wide open to attack.

There’ll always be a certain amount of DDoS attacks and other issues we can’t totally protect against, but small business owners can take many proactive steps to keep hackers at bay. Here are some tips to follow today:


1. Back up data to the cloud


You can protect data by backing it up to the cloud.

While storing information in this way doesn’t eliminate every risk, you will be more protected because of all the security protocols put in place on cloud-based applications.

READ: More on online security

Plus, by backing up off site, this ensures that if you ever do get stung by a ransomware attack, you won’t have to pay hackers to release your information.

Instead, you’ll have it available to access elsewhere.


2. Protect computers


If you want to keep cybercriminals out of your systems, it’s vital that the computers used in your business are protected.

Information is vulnerable if gadgets are lost or stolen so consider getting staff members to leave computers in the office over weekends and vacations.

As well, secure your office premises so that thieves can’t break in and steal computers, and dispose of old computers and hard drives sensibly.

Devices also need to be protected with security software and firewalls.

There are many excellent free and low-cost products on the market these days to choose from.

It’s wise, though, to protect systems with comprehensive software that covers against a wide range of threats, including malware, spyware, spam, ransomware, viruses and the like.


3. Use strong passwords


Another simple yet effective strategy is to ensure all employees use hard-to-crack passwords on devices, apps, and accounts which are logged into online.

Make sure your office’s Wi-Fi router is password protected, and that staff know to do the same for their home networks when working outside the office.

Let everyone know not to login to accounts or transfer sensitive information when out and about and using public networks, either.

You can also look into using systems which employ two-factor authentication for additional security, such as MYOB.


4. Keep systems updated


It’s important to train your entire team to keep their computers and software updated at all times.

Hardware and software creators find security gaps regularly, and release new versions of things to plug up these holes. As such, if you don’t run updates, you leave yourself at risk.

Be sure to update a broad range of things, such as operating systems, browsers, plugins, apps, and security software.

For additional protection, make a note to update passwords every few months, too.


5. Understand common scams


Another way to protect business data is to ensure all employees are clear about the common scams used by hackers.

For example, many cybercriminals send out emails which are embedded with malware or which have links which redirect to fake websites.

Instruct staff members to never open emails or attachments which come from people they don’t know.

Also, be on the lookout for fraudulent emails which are designed to look real and get readers to click on dodgy links or login to their accounts where hackers can see the details inputted.

Hackers often copy the logos and other details of large companies, such as telecommunications firms, banks and the like, and send out correspondence hoping to trick unsuspecting readers.

Look for graphics which don’t seem quite right; bad spelling or grammar; messages from different looking website URLs, and other red flags.

 

You can read about the latest threats to your business’ online security by signing up to StaySmartOnline alerts in Australia, and ConnectSmart alerts in NZ.