Posted on August 11 by ITSmart
Data security for SMEs – don’t be an easy target for hackers

Data security threats, such as from ransomware, are becoming increasingly common and are putting a wider range of businesses at risk. While high profile attacks on large organisations attract the most media attention, smaller sized businesses are becoming increasingly vulnerable. 

And while these types of attacks may have had limited success in the past, for example in the amount of ransoms actually paid or the time taken to halt the spread of the virus, malware threats to computer data are likely to become more numerous and effective. 

Compared to large organisations, smaller businesses tend to be less prepared than their enterprise counterparts and need to act now to protect their computers and networks. 


A false sense of security can be fatal to your data 


As a business owner it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that as a small player, you won’t attract the attention of hackers – but this complacency can be risky. Hackers are aware of the fact that larger organisations tend to have stronger security defences in place compared to SMEs, which means your business could become an easy target. 

At IT Smart Solutions, we’ve been dealing with an increasing number of enquiries from SMEs about the challenge of protecting their systems. Reports in the media of data security threats only tell part of the story – we’ve found that businesses don’t necessarily know what they need to do to keep their computers safe.

A successful cyber-attack could mean loss of data, reputational damage and inconvenience to your customers. SMEs may also have obligations under privacy laws to keep their customer’s data secure. If something goes wrong and data security is breached, your small business could become high profile for the wrong reasons. 

 What is the best course of action you can take to protect your business? 


Steps to strengthen your defences 


If you are going to be serious about protecting your business, be aware that it’s not just about having an anti-virus (AV) program installed. For example, AV doesn’t help in a case like ‘WannaCry’ ransomware as this is a ‘zero day’ attack –  it’s not publicly reported before becoming active, therefore a patch can’t be issued and the business is not protected.  

Your defence needs to be multifaceted – combining a number of measures together makes your protection stronger. You can’t predict exactly what type of attack could happen tomorrow so the more comprehensive your preparation the better.  

There are a few easy steps that IT Smart Solutions can help your business with, including:  

1. Ensuring security patches are kept up-to-date

2. Installing and managing virus protection software

3. Implementing a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery solution  

4. Minimising risk by limiting admin access on PCs  

These processes can be automates which means the security of your business is monitored on an ongoing basis. For example, we receive an alert if your AV software isn’t working properly or when patches are needed, so action can be taken immediately.

Also, should your data need to be recovered, your businesses can get back up and running quickly as data is saved to the cloud. While these technology safeguards are crucial, it’s also important that SMEs educate their staff about how to keep their data safe. 


Being proactive is the best strategy 


SMEs can be the low hanging fruit for would be hackers, so you need to ensure that your business is not available for easy picking. Without in-house IT expertise, it’s difficult for SMEs to stay on top of cybersecurity issues as your priority is to focus on running your business.  

The next major attack could be just around the corner so you need to be proactive in defence.  

The threat to data security is real and many Australian small businesses have so far been lucky. Taking the right steps now might well avoid a future disaster for your business. Read our actionable IT security guide for companies running on Office 365 to ensure you are effectively securing your business.