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Is your small business safe online?

Last week, the computer systems of the NHS were victim to a cyber-attack, targeted by a piece of software known as ‘ransomware’. As the name suggests, it encrypted information stored on the computer, and demanded a fee for it’s safe unlocking. While the NHS was the most widely reported victim, companies in up to 100 countries around the world were affected.

Poor cyber security causes huge risks to independent business owners. In 2014, 60% of small businesses experienced a breach in their cyber security. The worst affected companies reported losses of over £150,000. As many independent businesses use the internet to advertise their products, knowing how to keep private information safe online is vital.

Are you taking the correct steps make your business safe online? Find out below:

Don’t ignore software updates

You may think that it’s not worthwhile to run every software update as soon as you get a notification. Often, you may be in the middle of something important, so quickly dismiss the pop-up. No matter how small and insignificant the update may seem, it’s important to keep your business safe online by upgrading your software as soon as possible.

Along with new features, software updates regularly include upgrades to the security of the program or app. Updating as soon as you’re prompted to may take a few minutes, but it can help to prevent a cyber security attack in the future. Take a look at this checklist and make sure that all of your business software is up to date.

Take care with emails

Keeping on top of customer communications is important in any business. All messages should be read and replied to as soon as possible, at the risk of losing business. Hackers use this to their advantage, and create realistic looking emails with dangerous attachments or links. If you’re busy and checking emails, it’s easy to quickly click on an attachment that looks like an invoice, or follow a link to a product page.

A malicious attachment downloaded by one employee can wipe out the network of an entire company. Make sure that you and your staff are aware of this risk, and only click on links or attachments if you are expecting them. It’s difficult to keep a business safe online, and any company can fall foul of cyber security. Even if you think the email is from a source that can be trusted, take is!

Be safe with Wi-Fi

We are becoming an ever-more connected society, with almost constant access to the internet. While this is fantastic for business, it has opened the door to several security risks. There is now plenty of opportunity to connect to the internet while in public, meaning that you can work on the go. However, these public Wi-Fi access points allow hackers to access your private data. Although the convenience of a free internet connection might be useful while you’re out and about, wait until you get back to the office before sending secure data.

Similarly, there is now the option to work from ‘the cloud’. Although sounding futuristic, this means that your work is stored online and can be accessed from different locations and devices. This is a huge benefit for business owners, it means you can work from anywhere in the world! However, the cloud has been hacked before, and could be targeted again in the future. Make sure that your personal data stays off the cloud to keep your business safe online.

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