Internet security – are you keeping your business safe from cyber attack?

You have probably read the dramatic headlines about huge scale cyber attacks on big companies and even governments. Organisations being brought to their knees and held to ransom by the shadowy, ruthless figures behind internet security crime.

But did you know about the huge threat to small businesses of falling victim to cyber attack? Their stories may not make the headlines, but the statistics are shocking. Nearly half of all cyber attacks target small businesses. Over 90% of attacks are sent via email, and 85% of all email attachments sent globally are harmful. 

It would take a very optimistic person to take no action in preventing them falling prey to attack, assuming it won’t happen to them. And it would be one thing to take a risk with your personal IT situation, but to risk your business’s security, its operational efficiency, its data protection, let alone potential reputational damage and inconvenience caused to your customers, is unthinkable.  

Net Primates has been awarded the Government’s ‘Cyber Security Essentials Plus’s certificate. Their specialist team has extensive knowledge in the area of cyber threats, how to prevent them and the processes that companies need to follow to stay ahead of the hackers.

Here, they address the most common questions in this field.

Why should companies care about cyber security?

Due to the rapid evolution of electronic software and our reliance on it across every aspect of our lives, the business landscape has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades. The vast majority of organisations, however small, rely on the internet for their emails, phones and servers.

Working practices have developed too. Particularly since Covid, remote working in the corporate environment has escalated and smartphones and laptops have become the norm. The more we have to depend on the internet, the more vulnerable we are to cyber attack – in fact, it’s safe to say that any company simply connected to the internet in any way is potentially under major threat. 

And the repercussions of your businesses being the unfortunate target of a cyber attack? Quite simply, it’s huge and multi-faceted – affecting every aspect of your business from operational to financial.

What could a breach of cyber security mean for your business?

When Net Primates approach cyber security, they analyse the ‘what if’ risks to a business. Imagine if your business ‘went down’ for two weeks, due to you not being able to access your systems. How would you operate? How would you trade and generate revenue? 

How long could your business function without an operational accounts team being able to send out invoices or reconcile inbound payments? How long could you operate if all your Office 365 data was not accessible? A cyber attack has reputational implications too. A reputation takes years to build and seconds to destroy.

How can we create secure passwords?

There are plenty of tools online with software that automatically generates perfect, secure passwords. Whether you create your own password or not, a password should ideally be at least 12 characters long. Net Primates’ recommendation is to use a password manager to create and manage passwords securely.

Once it has generated your random, secure passwords, a password manager computer programme will store your passwords in an encrypted database and enable you to safely manage and retrieve them on demand.

Depending on what the passwords are used for and how often they are accessed, Net Primates advises businesses to change their passwords every 30, 60 or 90 days.

How can passwords be shared safely with new team members?

This is a key area that it is important for every business to ensure they are managing safely. When sharing passwords amongst colleagues, you should avoid using the same password for all your online business applications, systems and external suppliers. 

What Net Primates often come across, and strongly advise against, is passwords being stored and shared electronically within Word and Excel files. This format makes the data is vulnerable and it could easily be stolen by hackers. If your security is breached in this way, your data could be lost or shared with other people across the internet. 

The safest way to manage sharing passwords across your team is via a password manager. If a member of staff leaves, Net Primates can revoke their access in seconds. They would also advise that you change all your passwords when a staff member leaves, which is quick and easy to do using a password manager.

What is multi-factor authentication and do we need it?

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an effective extra layer of security that dramatically increases your protection levels against cyber attacks. Like adding a safety chain to a front door, it’s that extra step to protecting your account.

Do you need it? To ensure that you are protecting your business as best you can, yes, you do.

If someone is only using a username and password, it can be straightforward for hackers to penetrate that level of security and access your account. However, if you have MFA (also referred to as ‘two-step verification’) it is impossible for a hacker to successfully breach that next level of security, as they won’t have access to your mobile device that the MFA code will be sent to. It is an effective barrier to cyber attack – you have probably gone through this process with your bank, when you log in to their app on your phone and you have to provide an extra piece of information in addition to your username and password, that confirms that it is really you accessing your banking app. It is sometimes backed up by biometrics that are unique to you, such as face ID or fingerprint ID. 

How can Net Primates help?

The specialist team at Net Primates can appraise your business through the lens of cyber security being the top priority. They assess the risks of your network being down for even a couple of days, which is unacceptable for a functioning business these days. 

To mitigate that risk, they examine all areas of your operation and ensure that each and every part of it is protected as robustly as possible.

The expert and approachable team at Net Primates is available to talk through all the ways they can help you to protect you and your business from cyber crime. 

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