12th July, 2018

Protecting your small business’ data

The first step in getting customers to trust the security you have in place is securing your own data.

Last year, the Reserve Bank of Australia’s cyber-security chief Andrew Pade warned that small businesses were especially vulnerable to cyber-attacks as hackers go after small targets.

“While it may be scary, this is a new norm. It’s not something that can be solved. It’s a bit like driver awareness where constant vigilance is required to maintain your security posture,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Just like you have your car serviced every year – that’s what small businesses need to do with cyber security.”

Unfortunately, the risk of cyber-attack hasn’t gone away. Smaller businesses with fewer resources are increasingly vulnerable targets.

Given tech giants are now facing a huge backlash over the security of customer data and what they’re doing with that data, it’s fair to say cyber security awareness has jumped a few notches.

READ: Preparing your business for the age of hyper data awareness

READ: What is malware?

READ: Is your business a soft target?

“My hope is that this actually causes people to question the arrangement being entered into when they hand over data to a business,” Digital Rights Watch chair, Tim Singleton Norton, previously told The Pulse.

“If you’re giving that data to someone, do you trust them to use the data in the ways you’ve allowed them to? Do they have protections to make sure third parties and fourth parties don’t use it in nefarious ways?”

These questions aren’t just directed at big companies, but smaller ones as well.

As companies use more data to shape better sales messages and use CRMs (customer relationship management) to drive efficiency, customers are asking them questions.

Being asked those questions means that firms big and small are now investing in their cyber-security capability as never before. This will build over the next few years.

The need to safely keep customer data means there’s a boom for cyber-security consultants.

Infographic from the 2018 MYOB Radar Report

But smaller firms are disadvantaged. They simply don’t have the dollars to invest in a top-of-the-line cyber-security solution.

Instead, they need to work with their software providers on solutions and take practical steps so they’re being as safe with customer data (and their own) as possible.

4 simple ways to increase your cyber safety

1. Use two-factor authentication where you can

Two-factor authentication is almost a necessity with online business transactions rather than a nice thing to have.

At some point you’ve probably received a text for a code before you can log into certain applications – that’s 2FA in action.

It’s becoming standard and it’s a great way to avoid hackers taking your password – because it changes each time you use it.

2. Back up your data

This one is a bit non-negotiable.

The more often you back-up, the less back-tracking you’ll need to do in the case of cyber attack or even a natural disaster.

If you’re able to hold your data on an external hard drive or on the cloud (with stringent security protocols), do it.

It’s simply a matter of reminding yourself to do so and getting into the habit.

3. Update and upgrade

It can be a little bit annoying when you get a pop-up message ‘new update available’ when you’re just trying to do some work, but there’s a good reason they exist.

Behind the scenes, software development teams are crafting ways to make your software work better and safer.

Unfortunately the cyber-security space needs to constantly evolve to stay ahead of threats. Having the latest version of your software is a great way to keep away from the pack.

4. Stay informed

There are all sorts of great resources out there about the latest cyber threats – but we like StaySmartOnline in Australia and ConnectSmart in NZ.

The key is to stay informed about the latest ways potential criminals are seeking your information.

For example, do you know about the latest phishing attack going around? Well, you need to know.