Avoid a cyber attack – 5 tips for SMEs

Everyone is talking about the threat of a cyber-attack

One misconception is that it only happens to big businesses. These are the cases that the media report, but it affects much smaller businesses too. What’s more, the effects for SMEs can often be much more severe.

With more and more business being transacted electronically, cyber-attacks are only going to increase. Ignoring the issue is not an effective strategy to manage cyber risk.

Here are a few tips to help you to minimise the prospect of a serious cyber-attack on your business.

1) Make sure your anti-virus and email monitoring software is up to date.

Whilst it may sound obvious, new malicious software is emerging all of the time, and if you’re out of date, you’re at risk.

2) Use up to date passwords and change them regularly.

You should ideally set criteria for passwords that will make them strong (e.g. using a combination of uppercase, lowercase, symbols and numbers) and insist that they are changed regularly.

3) Educate your staff about cyber risks.

A lot of cyber-attacks rely on people as the weak link in the chain. It’s amazing how often people will respond to an email or click on a link that with hindsight looked suspicious. Engage a specialist to help if necessary.

Avoid a cyber attack
4) Be suspicious of web links you don’t recognise.

Again, it sounds obvious, but this is how a lot of attacks may start. You should also quarantine any hardware on which a suspicious link has been followed, even if there is no apparent effect. It may be that malicious software is lying dormant to collect data or carry out some other action later.

5) Verify requests made by your customers or suppliers directly before acting upon them.

More and more cyber-attacks rely on an apparently genuine communication coming from another organisation that you would ordinarily trust. For example, an email from a supplier asking you to amend the bank details to which you would normally make payments. Always check this directly with your usual contact first.

But above all, remain vigilant, and expect a cyber-attack! This mind set will help you to be as prepared as possible when you face a cyber-attack…as the chances are – you will!

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