6 security tricks to protect your business and outwit hackers

February 20, 2024
minutes to read
Warren More
Table of Contents

After the devasting hacks on Optus and Medibank in 2022, cybersecurity is an issue that is now top of mind for most small business owners. With fraudsters getting more sophisticated and cyber-attacks on the rise, it's a crucial area for small businesses to be aware of. Attacks can have devastating consequences, including data loss, financial losses, and damage to a company's reputation. This post will discuss the top cyber security tricks for small businesses to implement and how they can protect themselves against cyber security threats.

Small businesses are usually seen as easy targets for cybercriminals because they have fewer resources and less advanced security measures. However, the impact of a cyber-attack on a small business can be just as severe as it would be for a larger organisation. The loss of valuable data and financial losses can cripple a small business, and the damage to the company's reputation can be challenging to recover from. Additionally, small businesses are often part of a larger supply chain, and a cyberattack on a small business can have ripple effects throughout the entire chain.

One popular way fraudsters attack small businesses is via payment redirection scams. In these cases, a fraudster intercepts an invoice sent to a client and edits the payment details. The fraudster will then send the invoice to the client, who will then unwillingly deposit the funds in the fraudster's bank account. While this is a simple technique, it's also very effective, and Australian businesses lost over $277 million to this scam in 2021 alone.

Cyber awareness is crucial for small businesses because it helps them identify and mitigate cyber threats before they can cause severe damage. This includes staying informed about the latest threats and trends in cyber security, as well as being vigilant about identifying suspicious activity on the company's systems and networks. To help you protect your business, here are six expert tips on what you can do to reduce the risk of a cyber attack.

Trick 1: Stay up-to-date with the new scams

Whilst many small business owners may feel clueless about where to start with cyber security, there are several simple steps that small businesses can take to protect themselves against threats. The best place to start is to start getting educated on common scams. This will help you build awareness of attacks and prevent yourself from falling for them. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) provides some excellent resources in this area, including Scamwatch. Scamwatch tracks cyber threats, and you can subscribe to an email list to get notified when new threats emerge.

Trick 2: Develop a cyber security plan

The next step is to create a cyber security plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a cyber-attack. This plan should include regularly backing up data, installing anti-virus software, and training employees on how to identify and avoid phishing scams. It's also important to have an incident response plan in case of data breaches, to minimise the impact and to comply with regulations. Once you have the plan, you can share it with your team and run sessions to educate them on best practices.

Trick 3: Conduct a cyber security assessment

Another critical step is to conduct regular security assessments to identify vulnerabilities in your systems and networks. A comprehensive cybersecurity assessment should cover the identification and assessment of assets, vulnerability assessment, threat assessment, risk assessment, security controls assessment, compliance assessment, business continuity and disaster recovery planning, incident response plan, and ongoing monitoring and maintenance. The evaluation can be done by hiring a third-party company to audit your procedures and provide recommendations.

Trick 4: Implement a staff training program

Implementing a staff cybersecurity training program is essential to protecting your business. A well-designed program should be tailored to the specific needs of your business and employees and should be regularly updated to reflect the latest cybersecurity risks and best practices. Training should be delivered in a format that is accessible and engaging for employees, such as interactive workshops, webinars, and online tutorials. To get the best results, take advantage of qualified and experienced cybersecurity professionals who can answer questions and guide your team.

Trick 5: Reduce exposure to customer and business data

Reducing and disposing of customer data effectively is an integral part of protecting personal information and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations as a small business. One effective way to reduce the amount of customer data stored is to only collect the information required for a specific business purpose. For example, if a business only needs a customer's name and address to process an order, it should not collect additional information such as their phone number or email address. Another way to reduce the amount of data stored is to implement a data retention policy that sets a specific time period after which customer data is no longer needed and can be securely disposed of. This policy should be reviewed regularly to ensure it is still satisfactory.

Trick 6: Purchase cyber insurance

Cyber insurance is a type of insurance that helps organisations protect themselves against financial losses caused by cyber-attacks, data breaches, and other information security incidents. It can help cover legal fees, public relations, and IT forensic investigations. Cyber insurance is becoming increasingly crucial as cyber-attacks become more frequent and costly. When purchasing cyber insurance, small business owners should compare coverage options from different insurance providers and work with a reputable insurance broker such as Upsure. A broker can you understand the coverage options available and select the right policy for your business needs.

It's important to always stay vigilant against cybercrime; if you are not, the results can be severe. Besides reputational damage and loss of money, cyber security incidents in Australia can also result in legal consequences. Recent legislation resulting from the Medibank and Optus hacks means that companies that suffer from repeated breaches can be fined up to $50 million. The Privacy Act 1988 has severe punishments for companies' mishandling personal information and covers how personal data is collected, used, and disclosed. Additionally, the Criminal Code Act 1995 criminalises various types of fraud and cybercrime, such as unauthorised access to or modification of data.

Companies that suffer a data breach must notify the affected individuals and organisations under the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme. The NDB scheme aims to ensure that individuals are informed about data breaches that may affect them, so they can take steps to protect themselves from potential harm, such as identity theft or financial loss. It also aims to encourage companies to implement more robust security measures to protect personal information and to be more transparent about data breaches when they occur. Failure to notify customers on time can result in significant fines. Additionally, a business may be liable for compensation to any individuals or organisations affected by the data breach.

Cybersecurity FAQs

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity for a business is the practice of protecting your business's electronic assets and data from unauthorized access, theft, or damage by implementing various security measures.

What are some common cybersecurity threats to businesses?

Some common cybersecurity threats to businesses include phishing attacks, malware attacks, social engineering attacks, ransomware attacks, and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.

How can I improve cybersecurity in my business?

You can improve cybersecurity in your business by implementing strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, regular software updates, network firewalls, antivirus software, regular data backups, and employee training.

What are the consequences of a cybersecurity breach for my business?

The consequences of a cybersecurity breach can be severe for your business, including loss of revenue, reputational damage, legal liabilities, and potential financial penalties.

What should I do if my business experiences a cybersecurity breach?

If your business experiences a cybersecurity breach, you should immediately disconnect all affected devices from your network, contain the breach, assess the damage, and notify your customers and stakeholders. You should also report the breach to relevant authorities, such as the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

Cybercrime is a critical issue for small businesses that can protect themselves against security threats by understanding the latest scams, having a cyber security plan, conducting regular security assessments, and building a culture of cyber security awareness with staff. Small businesses can be targeted if they don't have the proper steps in place, which can cause massive disruption to a business and its reputation. To stay protected, follow these six tricks, and you'll be well placed to protect your business, employees, suppliers and customers against hackers.

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