Ten simple steps to keep cyber threats at bay
Mark Gorrie shares 10 steps for business owners looking to significantly boost their defences against the ongoing threat of cyber attacks. As the digital landscape expands, so does the threat of cybercrime, and small and medium businesses (SMBs) are not immune to these risks. Recent statistics reveal a concerning trend – nearly a quarter of […]
Mark Gorrie shares 10 steps for business owners looking to significantly boost their defences against the ongoing threat of cyber attacks.
As the digital landscape expands, so does the threat of cybercrime, and small and medium businesses (SMBs) are not immune to these risks.
Recent statistics reveal a concerning trend – nearly a quarter of SMBs in New Zealand have fallen victim to cyber attacks1, and four in 10 business owners worry they might be the next target within the next year2.
Perhaps most alarming is the fact that only 14 percent of small business owners are adequately prepared for a cyber attack3. This lack of preparedness is a costly mistake for many, as SMBs that experience a catastrophic cyber event often find themselves on the brink of bankruptcy or even closure.
Despite the prevailing notion that cybersecurity is complex, obscure, and costly, SMB owners must realise that effective cybersecurity solutions need not be intimidating or expensive.
There are tailored cybersecurity options available that can offer the right level of protection based on the specific stage of growth, digital maturity, and industry of each business.
Here are 10 steps business owners can take today to reduce their exposure to cybercriminals, and help them to sleep better at night.
- Back up your data: The impact of ransomware attacks can be devastating, with 60 percent of SMBs hit by such attacks going out of business within six months4. Ensuring that mission-critical data is regularly backed up is vital to mitigate the potential losses from cyber incidents.
- Use strong passwords: Shockingly, 19 percent of businesses still use easily guessed passwords or share passwords across accounts5, providing cybercriminals with a straightforward path to infiltrate systems. Implementing strong passwords and avoiding password reuse is a fundamental step in safeguarding sensitive business data and systems.
- Train and educate employees on cybersafety: Phishing emails continue to be a major threat, with 30 percent of SMBs falling prey to such scams during the Covid lockdowns6. By educating staff on how to recognise and handle suspicious online activity, businesses can significantly reduce their vulnerability to cyber threats.
- Patch your systems: Poor patch management is responsible for 57 percent of data breaches7. By regularly applying security patches and updates, businesses can prevent cybercriminals from exploiting known vulnerabilities and causing disruptions.
- Strengthen access control: Effective access control mechanisms allow organisations to manage and restrict access to critical data and resources, preventing unauthorised access and data breaches.
- Have a breach response plan: Despite best efforts, breaches can still occur. Having a well-thought-out disaster recovery plan in place enables businesses to respond swiftly and effectively to mitigate the impact of a breach.
- Install a reputable, paid for security suite: Installing and updating security software is a basic yet crucial step in protecting against malware, viruses, ransomware, and other cyber threats.
- Secure your networks: Wi-Fi networks should be appropriately secured to prevent unauthorised access. Additionally, providing remote workers with a virtual private network (VPN) ensures secure access to the company’s network.
- Install a BYOD policy: As BYOD practices become prevalent, having a documented Bring Your Own Device policy focused on security precautions is essential to safeguard sensitive business data accessed through personal devices.
- Use multi-factor authentication: MFA adds an extra layer of security beyond traditional usernames and passwords, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorised access and account breaches.
In an era where cyber threats are rampant, SMBs in New Zealand must prioritise cybersecurity to safeguard their businesses and customers. By adopting these top tips, businesses can significantly reduce their exposure to cyber risks.
Investing in robust cybersecurity measures not only protects the business from potential financial ruin but also strengthens customer trust and confidence.
Mark Gorrie is Managing Director APAC for Gen Digital Inc. https://www.gendigital.com/
2 CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey 2022
3 Accenture Cost of Cybercrime Study 2022