Four Ways to Improve Your Online Security

Every year, one in five small businesses fall victim to cybercrime; 60% of those go out of business in the subsequent six months.

If you think you’re too small to attack think again- companies with under 250 staff accounted for 31% of attacks in 2012 with 80% of small businesses experiences a security breach of some kind in the same year.

No system is foolproof; as the frequent breaches the US Government suffer can testify too. But ‘black hat’ hackers will generally gravitate towards the easier targets.

Small businesses generally represent such ‘easy’ targets and while the rewards of an attack for a hacker may be smaller, the chances of getting caught are significantly reduced as well.

If you’re unsure how secure your business is, then refer to Piers Wilson’s five questions every business should ask in regard to their online security.Key Questions (2)

If you struggle to find the answers to Wilson’s test then it’s time to review your online security.


In the meantime, here’s a few tips to help secure your business:



1) Use anti-virus and anti-malware software

These days’ hackers don’t have to be particularly intelligent to carry out an attack, automated software will do it for them.

Sophisticated software can route out weaknesses just as easily as the wrong click can leave you with malware contaminating your system.

An attack can come from a host of sources, from: email attachments and websites to insecure WiFi connections and bad apps. Once the malware has access it can operate in the background and relay critical information pertaining to finances, passwords and sensitive information to the hackers.

By loading anti-virus and anti-malware across all your devices- that includes mobile and tablets too- you can help to prevent attacks.

Obviously no piece of software is perfect but in general anti-virus software does a commendable job at detecting, preventing and nullifying the threat of malicious malware.


2) Stay Up to Date

The tech world moves fast. Generally when a company brings out an update it is to fix existing ‘bugs’ or problems within the software.

Bugs increase your susceptibility to viruses and offer hackers a path into your system. By staying up-to-date you’re effectively plugging up the holes that could be used to exploit your business.

Updating your anti-virus software, browser and any software you regularly use will help to keep your system and your business safe.


3) Passwords

This seems incredibly obvious, but it’s important to ensure all your passwords are varied and strong.

Hackers can guess passwords at one billion attempts a second. This will seem incredibly fast and it’s not helped by the fact that if your password is only 5 characters long then it will take approximately 10 seconds to crack it.

Improving your security is as simple as adding a few more characters to your password.

As Dark Matters writer Robert Graham notes, when you add more characters to a password it becomes significantly more difficult for the hacker to crack:

6 characters = 1,000 seconds 7 characters = 1 day 8 characters = 115 days 9 characters = 31 years 10 characters = 3,000 years

As a general rule of thumb, any password which contains below 8 characters is crackable. By ensuring your businesses passwords, including employee log-ins, are above 9 characters- with symbols, letters and numbers included- you can help prevent potential attacks.


4) Secure Your WiFi

If you really want to be secure don’t use WiFi and utilise a wired connection instead. Then the only way for a hacker to gain entry is through a wired connection or by hacking your modem.

This isn’t an option for most businesses, so let’s focus on WiFi instead.

Securing your WiFi connection is imperative, hackers will search for and detect for weak WiFi connections and one they are in they might as well be sat at your desk rummaging through your computer.

The first thing you can do to secure your WiFi is to create an impregnable password following the steps above.

Secondly, disable the SSID function on your wireless router. This effectively hides your network and makes it accessible only to those with your network name. Here’s a nifty guide explaining how to do this.

Finally, ensure your WiFi is updated to the latest encryption standard. Many hacked businesses still operate on a highly outdated WiFi ES and by keeping it up to date you can help prevent a serious attack. To update your ES isn’t nearly as complicated as it sounds and here’s an article that will help you do so.

Unfortunately, it’s a question of if your business gets attacked, it’s a question of when. So prepare as best you can by implementing some of the above measures.

It also pays to make your staff security savvy so help to educate them too if you can.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your businesses security feel free to contact Ri Web for advice.

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