5 steps to protect your business from cyber security attacks

cybersecurity attacks, hacked text banner on screen

Hopefully many London businesses will be aware of the possible cybersecurity threats to their IT systems. However, these same businesses may not know the necessary and updates measures to protect themselves from attacks. Therefore, with the increased risk of malicious activity against companies and their data today, there’s never been a more important time to learn how to protect your business from cybersecurity attacks.

Small businesses and cybersecurity attacks

Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Between 2022 and 2023, the UK government reported that on average the most disruptive data breach to businesses, whether large or small in size, caused the same financial losses. This leaves small businesses at a greater disadvantage for recovery after cybercrimes, as these losses prove much more impactful than on a larger organisation.

As of 2022, 45% of small businesses in the UK said they had experienced some form of phishing. And according to further government statements, small businesses may be underreporting data breaches and cyberattacks, and dismissing cybersecurity as a business priority. However, we believe that recording your small business’ security threats are vital to identifying persistent vulnerable areas for attack. This important action can help reinforce security measures and mitigate future damage, saving you money.

Note: some of the above figures relate to reports from 2022. Arguably, the dangers for already vulnerable groups are increasing year by year. This is due to cybercriminals becoming more invasive, sophisticated, and effective in carrying out their attacks. Alongside this, your own use of always connected, Internet-based technologies (such as cloud computing) and vulnerable mobile devices for your business grows every year.

Why you must protect your small business

Many small businesses assume there isn’t anything worth hacking or valuable information to steal from their IT systems. And you’re not alone there. “Cyber hygiene” has seen a significant fall over the past year, with micro and small businesses declining in their use of firewalls, admin rights restrictions and automatic software updates. But limiting your cybersecurity may have grave consequences on the future of your small business.

When we’re asked, ‘How can companies protect against hackers?’ we often answer that it’s not just the technical or financial cost you need to worry about. A cybersecurity attack which inflicts on your hard-earned reputation and base of loyal customers can mean the end of your enterprise. US stats this year also show that 60% of small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) who suffer a cyberattack will close after six months. So prioritising cybersecurity and the safety of your business’ data could be crucial for the future of your small business.

Five essential steps to protect your business

We’re now going to describe the five essential steps you must take to protect your business from cybersecurity attacks. The good news is that many of these steps are virtually free to implement or, at least, are far cheaper than the cost of a security breach. Here are the five steps we strongly recommend for businesses:

  • Start with password best practice throughout your organisation
  • Implement a regular patching and update schedule
  • Implement – or improve – cybersecurity training
  • Partner with a managed IT services provider in London
  • Don’t delay – act now

Start with password best practice throughout your organisation

We know that everyone struggles with the difficulty of remembering numerous complex passwords and getting them jumbled up. But as of 2021, it was found that 80% of all confirmed employee breaches were successful because of stolen, weak or reused passwords.

Chances are, even when you think your business is following best industry practice for password strength and the frequency with which you update them, you’re not. Remember that any security chain is only as strong as its weakest links. These vulnerable points for attack will almost certainly be your employees (however unintentionally) and poor password protocols.

So, make sure your team are aware and follow the industry best practice for passwords. Put simply, that means a different password for every site and application. The most secure passwords are long with random combinations of letters, numbers and symbols, plus multi-word passphrases.

Again, we know that remembering all your passwords and sharing accounts with everyone on your team who need to access them can create some challenges. For this case we recommend utilising a password manager like LastPass or 1Password. In fact, for a small business where everyone is probably wearing several hats, a password manager can be a time saving, hassle-free amenity.

Implement a regular patching and update schedule

The Internet of Things (IoT) – where more and more devices in our lives are connected to the web is now a reality. From watches to printers, and home security cameras to central heating controllers, they bring convenience and utility to our lives. However, each one of these connected devices has a point of weakness and a potential avenue for attack.

So, implement a regular patching and update regime across all devices to protect your business from cybersecurity attacks. These patches and updates are often designed and delivered by your software, application, or system vendor to fix already identified security weaknesses. Therefore, it only makes sense to install them to ensure every device connected to your network is operating in its most robust state.

This essential action can be a sizeable addition to your team’s workload, especially if you don’t have dedicated IT staff. It is then worth finding one of London’s managed IT service providers to help. Feel free to speak to one of our team to find out more.

Implement – or improve – cybersecurity training

As we said above, when it comes to cybersecurity your business’s weakest link is usually your employees. It’s not their fault as threats are ever increasing in number and sophistication and becoming more difficult for your business to identify and prevent.

For example, cybercriminals are increasingly using attacks (such as spearfishing) which rely on your people being fooled by a genuine looking deception. This may be in the form of a spoofing e-mail, a link to a dodgy domain or even a Google two factor authentication form. That’s why regular, thorough, and effective cybersecurity training for everyone in your company is critical.

Train your team to look out for any suspicious activity and double check they are being safe before taking action. Your employees must be certain of what they are downloading or being directed to before they click on it. Ensure they verify the contents of attachments and zip files with the sender. If in doubt, check: even to the point of calling the sender to be sure.

What’s more, as threats evolve, so must your training, so keep regularly up to date with new schemes available to your business. This helps your employees become a key part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Partner with a managed IT services provider in London

We know that most small businesses won’t have extensive in-house IT resources such as a professional IT team, a secure IT room or state of the art defence technology. And these may not be feasible options in consideration of your budget, number of employees and workload.

Instead, it will be beneficial to find a trusted, expert and experienced managed service provider here in London. This will give you access to a team of professionals who specialise in looking after your IT infrastructure and network security. Managed IT services also typically sit at an affordable fixed monthly rate.

A managed service provider (MSP) can support your IT and business in many ways. Services can cover the critical measures we’ve been discussing here such as 24/7 network security monitoring and threat detection. Your MSP will further ensure you’re using the leading cyber solutions and industry best practices to transform your core business processes and drive you on toward success.

In addition, your MSP will take charge of keeping your IT, network, people, IP and confidential customer information safe, so that you can focus on key tasks and running your business.

So, you can imagine the confidence, productivity and peace of mind this gives you and your team.

Don’t delay – act now

As we’ve discovered, it’s therefore no exaggeration to say that the evolution of cybersecurity attacks is becoming much more targeted towards London’s small and medium sized businesses. Threats can continue increasing for as long as cybercriminals are willing to transform ways of breaching, stealing and exploiting sensitive business data. We must insist that cyberattacks are a serious reality causing more valuable losses than ever before.

We believe that although many small businesses aren’t prioritising cybersecurity, you absolutely should. Your business deserves to confront these threats head-on and win, because cybersecurity is a war of attrition you cannot afford to lose. As we mentioned, many small businesses who have been hacked are surrendering to threats and closing their doors within six months.

You need your entire team to understand and be aware of what’s at stake and what they can do about it. We’ve highlighted these several steps for you to start implementing today to put the odds back your side. These include using industry best practices for passwords, committing to a device patching and upgrading schedule, improving your cybersecurity training and getting help from a managed service provider in London.

We’re expert, experienced, award-winning and with Five Star customer service ratings from Feefo, TrustPilot and Google we’ve become the go to IT support team for London. If you have specific services or a budget in mind, please reach out to us at totality to learn more about our managed IT services and book your free audit today!