Small business advice: How to deal with a cyber security issue

With 61% of small enterprises suffering from a breach of cyber security in 2014, being prepared for such an eventuality is an essential part of good business management.

Whatever prevention methods you employ, the first thing to acknowledge is that no-one is free from the risk of a security breach. Cyber attacks can come in many forms, including malicious theft of data or targeted breaches, plus viruses, malware and Trojans. Whilst you can minimise the risks by adopting a robust cyber security policy, you should also have a recovery plan in place.

Lastly, organisations should not underestimate the damage a single attack could cause, even for a small business. Loss of critical data, financial exposure, and damage to reputation are just a few of the risks. Some insurance companies provide cyber insurance policies, which can help with the cost of recovery, business interruption, and theft of money or digital assets. They may even pay out against reputational damage and customer notification expenses.

Risk management

Planning a companywide policy for mitigating your exposure to cyber attacks should include:

• keeping software up to date
• installing virus protection
• installing a firewall
• training staff in key security principles
• restricting the use of removable media devices
• keeping regular back-ups of business critical data
• securing wireless networks
• restricting global access to all employees

Staff training should cover the importance of strong passwords, remote access of company files from mobile devices, security of laptops from theft, and opening attachments on emails.

Recovery planning

If the worst happens and you are the victim of some form of cyber security breach, a good recovery plan will reduce the amount of damage caused to your business and speed up the recovery process.

When planning for recovery, you should consider:

• how your business could continue its operations without IT services
• whether you have sufficient IT support to recover your IT services
• whether you need to report the attack to the police’s fraud unit
• how you can identify what caused the attack, ensuring these gaps in your defences are made more robust in the future

If your company holds payment or personal data, you will need to ensure you comply with personal data protection legislation and Payment Card Industry compliance.

Responding quickly to an attack is critical to limiting the amount of damage it can cause and planning for an event is crucial to business continuity.

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