Five things to do today to protect your business from hackers

The cyber attack that took place over the weekend of 13-14 May 20-17 was not only a wake-up call for large organisations like the NHS, but for smaller businesses too. In fact, if you own or run an SME without a dedicated IT department, it really falls into your lap to protect your assets as far as possible.

Cyber security always seems to be way down the to-do list, and the possibilities of viruses affecting the business feel quite remote. That is until they happen – without warning and possibly with devastating effects.

Virus attacks are indiscriminate and can come from anywhere in the world.  They are designed to worm their way into the weakest link. Attacks will always be out there, but there are a few simple steps we can all take to keep our own business as safe as possible.

Here at One Tree, I’m pleased to say we already all of this in place already. However the weekend’s news had us scurrying to run additional back-ups – just in case!

1. Make sure all computers are running with up-to-date operating systems
The recent attack affected pcs running on very old Windows XP software. Check that recent operating systems are installed on all office pcs and devices. If not, it’s time to upgrade to the latest versions.

2. Download security patches
Large software companies like Microsoft, Apple and WordPress regularly release operating system upgrades. Part of these releases include security patches to prevent known virus attacks. Some releases come through automatically, but if you are prompted to run a new software release from trusted sources, make time to do so.

3. Back up websites, PCs and smart phones weekly
If you don’t have virtual back-ups running in the background, pcs can be backed up using an external hard drive. Phones can be backed up to the pc and then everything is stored in a second place.

It’s a pain in the neck, and easy to forget, so set a fixed time every week to run back-ups to an external hard drive or to the cloud. Data held on hand held devices should be backed up too. Going back a week will be far less painful than losing everything stored on an individual computer.

4. Install and run anti-virus software and malware
Anti-virus software ranges from free packages to subscription services with all the bells and whistles. Remember to keep them up to date.  Even large organisations can lose anti-virus protection if invoices aren’t paid! All pcs should be given protection.

5. Make sure personal devices used by staff for business are also safe
With so much work done from home and employees bringing their own devices to work, security issues may be spread further than in-house equipment. Staff devices pose another potential weakness so should be checked for all of the above.

If pipes leak into the office, I doubt most of us would ignore it as the consequences are visible and expensive to repair. Leaky IT systems could create far more havoc to a business however.  It’s well worth taking an hour out today to check what needs doing to improve security.  Follow up is then important to put measures in place to deal with any gaps and to protect your business from hackers.

Louise Callan, Marketing Director, One Tree.  If you have any thoughts or questions, or would like to find out more about how to sell gift vouchers from your website, please get in touch.