When people own a computer they frequently store sensitive personal information there. It could be anything from Word documents and spreadsheets to online banking passcodes. As a result, many folks wonder how best to protect their computer from viruses, malware and phishing attacks.
Business computers often hold vast amounts of financial information and private data. Should they be hacked, huge sums of money could be stolen and sensitive data accessed. Research shows that many small businesses that experience cyberattacks fail to remain in operation for long as a result. It may be that you are wondering how to check the IT security levels for your business, and if that’s the case you will find this article highly informative.
Request An External Assessment
Even if you have competent in-house IT staff it can be beneficial to have a fresh pair of eyes looking at your cybersecurity. External specialist companies can audit your equipment, procedures and policies. They can then provide a detailed report containing their recommendations.
Third parties can speak to your key staff and run external vulnerability scans. High-level analytics may be used as well as staff questionnaires on cybersecurity awareness. It’s possible to receive a free cyber security assessment from some online companies. They often use Microsoft Teams to communicate, explaining security strategies and conducting penetration testing.
Identify What Needs Protection
Whilst the obvious answer is to protect everything, there may be financial constraints to your activities. As a result, the different business areas and processes should be categorised into different priority levels.
Some areas will be easy to identify, such as customer details and financial information. Protection measures may need to be in place for online money transactions and the storage of sensitive medical data. There may be local and national legislation and regulations you need to comply with, and these areas may be externally audited on occasion.
Define Your Risk Levels
When people discipline their children they often choose not to fight every battle. Instead, they address things one at a time in priority order. The same principle can be applied to your company. When it comes to risk management, some things are highly unlikely to occur and would have minimal implications. If you have a limited budget, you may decide to ignore or delay addressing such risks. In contrast, some events could be a total disaster with wide-ranging implications.
Different companies may vary in their attitude towards risk, and as a result, someone’s cybersecurity policies could differ from yours. It’s important for you to decide what matters and what you can afford to put in place.
See Who Has Access To What
Cloud technology enables companies to securely store their data online. It can then be accessed and edited from anywhere, using different platforms. It is paramount that the access levels vary according to each employee’s roles and responsibilities. This could include the use of software or even card access within your work premises.
Care needs to be taken to ensure people can’t view unattended computers. Whether it’s a customer or a cleaner, all need to be kept at a safe distance. The accounting and payroll systems need to be especially protected from rogue access and financial activities. You also need to be wise over the internal and external IT workers who have access to your systems.
Know Your Employees
Background checks and character references form part of the recruitment process. It’s essential that all data is verified to identify people with issues such as debt or a criminal past. In each of these two example scenarios, an employee could be tempted to steal money or company equipment.
Firewalls are effective at monitoring incoming and outgoing data 24/7, but there is more that you can do. If staff have individual accounts and passwords that they don’t share, your security can be improved. If anything irregular occurs it should be easier to identify the source.
Test The Understanding Of Your Staff
A comprehensive cybersecurity policy needs to be put in place. It should be an integral part of the business plan that is communicated to all staff. Each employee should be trained on the responsible use of computers, passwords and data. They need to understand their level of accountability, and the implications of being irresponsible. This could include anything from disciplinary measures to being dismissed and/or having legal proceedings taken against them. In order for these things to be formalised, each member of staff should be required to sign an agreement.
Your cyber policies should be a part of the staff induction process, and existing employees should be trained and given refresher courses/updates regularly. If you issue staff questionnaires it can help identify any areas of confusion or lack of training related to IT security.
Read Your Disaster Recovery Plan
It’s wise for every company to have backup plans for use in a crisis. They could include such scenarios as a loss of power or computer access, or a premises that is destroyed by fire. Your disaster recovery plan should also show what measures you would take if there was data theft or if your cloud server security was breached.
It’s one thing to consider cyber breaches and to create a contingency plan, but another to test it. Whilst this would take money and time to achieve, it could highlight the areas you need to address.
Check How Regularly You Backup Your Data
This is surely an area where you shouldn’t cut corners. You may decide to store things on two different servers or to securely keep external drives and memory sticks. You may even wish to save data on a computer that has no internet connection and that is therefore protected from the internet.
Once you have identified the vulnerable areas of your company, you can address them. Longer-term everyone needs to work towards the same goal: keeping your data as safe as possible whilst working responsibly. In return, you will have greater peace of mind and will be able to focus on the growth and success of your business.