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Guard against cyber attacks

The small steps you can take ensure the security of your small business.

There seems to be a lot of hype in the media at the moment about eminent of cyber attacks and the threat to small businesses in particular.   Over the past few years it has become obvious that criminal gangs have also been targeting small businesses, as the number of attacks on small businesses are continuing to rise.

One of the most popular attack vectors for many small businesses is their website or blog.  A number of small businesses will make use of some PHP based content management system , i.e. WordPress, Magento, Joomla, Drupal or similar, primarily due to its ease of use and also there lower cost to entry.

Many small businesses will take on the services of a either a freelance web designer/developer or small scale IT consultancy to get their site up and running.   These outside agencies will be under pressure to keeps costs low while at the same time delivering the client an operational website.  Unfortunately the security is not as much of a priority as it should be,  in some cases the only time security is discussed it will only revolve around login pages and creating some user accounts and roles for the relevant content management system.

Many small business owners and staff mistakenly think that their chosen hosting provider will take care of the security of their site as part of the hosting agreement. This is not necessarily the case,  hosting companies will take some security precautions,  however these are primarily focused around ensuring their servers are not hacked on the whole, but they don't necessarily have control over security arrangements on the sites they host.

Small businesses also rely heavily on the automation of repetitive tasks and processes to ensure that they don't get overwhelmed by the number of tasks involved in keeping a web business running smoothly. These solutions invariably consist of a number of interconnected software applications, all storing ever increasing volumes of data, i.e. Contact Info, Bank Account numbers, Credit/Debit card info, buying habits, Email Addresses, Social Media accounts. The very same data that companies collect and use to improve sales opportunities are gold mines for cyber criminals!

How to prevent being a victim of cyber crime?

Despite all the media coverage of this sudden increase in threat of cyber attacks for small and medium businesses, there is very little useful advice or strategies for business owners to ensure are implemented.   Most of the advice handed out seems to revolve around ensuring you have anti-virus installed and you ensure you change your password regularly and never use the same password for all websites.  Sure this advice is good, but it certainly wont prevent you from becoming a victim.

Not all businesses can afford the services of IT Security experts, in many cases the IT department of the smaller businesses, may  be their teenage nephew whose a minecraft expert and a dab hand with excel.

Implementing a robust IT security strategy doesn't have to be rocket science, and there are some really easy things you can implement that can deter 80% of all attacks.

Over the next few weeks I will be providing some quick tips on how to improve the security of your IT systems.  These tips will include ensuring your blog is spam free,  setting up your browser for secure browsing, improving your website security and a whole host of other security based tips.



Gary Woodfine
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