This week spells the start of Cybersecurity Month – 31 days dedicated to raising UK cybersecurity awareness and helping to secure the internet.
To mark the event, UKFast and Secarma CEO Lawrence Jones MBE is publishing his top six cybersecurity tips to help businesses stay safe. Both of Jones' Manchester technology businesses are dedicated to securing business data.
Talking about Cybersecurity Month, Jones said: "Data has been termed 'the new oil', such is its extraordinary value in the modern world. Yet, all too often, businesses don't understand the importance or methodology of keeping it secure. Both our personal data, and that of our customers, is incredibly valuable.
"In this day and age, especially with GDPR in force, data breaches can be catastrophic for brands. We're seeing more businesses targeted; look at BA who had a hacker swipe the details of 380,000 customers over a 16-day period. Curry's Digital has also been hit this year, Superdrug too.
"A breach can happen to anyone and that's why it's so important that we raise awareness through events like Cybersecurity Month."
Despite the doom and gloom, there are a number of simple practices that businesses can put in place to protect themselves. Some may seem basic but, properly executed, create the foundation for strong cybersecurity.
1. Improve your passwords
Passwords are the absolute bedrock of strong security! Unfortunately the most used passwords, even in 2018, are '123456' and 'password'. Passwords should be long, include capitals, numbers and symbols at the very minimum. Consider two-factor authentication too, which adds another layer of security to your logins.
2. Get the knowledge
As they say, 'knowledge is power'. Make sure you're up to date with the latest threats; do you know what phishing is? Do you know what ransomware is? How can you protect yourself against something if you don't know what it is?
3. Embrace updates
How many times have you clicked 'later' on that update pop-up? These are essential updates that often patch flaws in your system's security. They're there for a reason! Whether it's on your phone or laptop, update now. You should have a system in place for your business tech, if not, look at how you can automate patch updates to make them easier. Speak with your technical teams about how and when updates are rolled out. Have a strategy to make sure it happens.
4. Educate your team
According to the ICO, four out of five data security incidents in the final quarter of 2017 happened because of human error or process failure. Of course, it's difficult to change human behaviour and break bad habits, so it's important to get your team together in a group to discuss the risks and how to avoid them. Teach them what to look for and best practice to secure data and avoid costly mistakes.
5. Ethical hackers are your friend
Bring in the experts! Ethical hackers use the same techniques as cybercriminals to look for gaps in your security and come up with ways to help you to secure them before someone can use them to break into your systems.
6. Ask for help
Reach out to your hosting provider or to a cybersecurity company that can help you put together an ongoing cybersecurity strategy for your business.