Business expert Adam Bernstein reveals what to do to avoid a cyber attack
Viruses and other forms of attack have wrought havoc on computers in recent years. From keyloggers (which secretly record keystrokes) to ransomware such as CryptoLocker, all businesses are at risk. While large firms have processes in place to protect systems, here’s what smaller retailers can do to stay virus free.
No form of inoculation can ever be perfect but installing an anti-virus package from a reputable software vendor is an obvious but crucial step to take. Some suppliers charge, but free versions are available from the likes of Avast and Microsoft.
The key to success with anti-virus is to keep the application updated and to regularly scan computers. It ought to be done daily but should definitely be carried out at least once a week.
Windows, Mac or any other system needs regular updating. These systems are hugely complex and run to millions of lines of code and are riddled with vulnerabilities which are being found frequently; it’s the reason why developers are perpetually issuing software updates and fixing security issues.
Read More: What to Know About Hacking
One of the biggest mistakes a user can make is to fail to secure their network. It is critical to change your device name and password as soon as it’s connected – and wifi, once set up, should not broadcast its existence, which means turning off what is called the ‘SSID.’ Passwords should also be strong- select the minimum WPA or WPA2 encryption.
It is essential that the same passwords are never reused. Those that do reuse and who are unfortunate enough to have been compromised will find that other accounts are also at risk.
As to how to create a strong password – use a long mixture of upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols, or search for an online password generator. Passwords should be changed frequently and whenever an employee leaves.
Human error is the biggest cause of security vulnerabilities so it’s important to ingrain caution within staff, ideally by a policy that covers what they can and cannot do online. This means detailing which websites can be visited, that no software is to be downloaded or installed, and emails with attachments should be quarantined and scanned.
Read More: How Secure Are Your Systems?
Staff should be made aware of ‘social engineering’ where a plausible caller can persuade staff to give away private data. Similarly, be careful what the business and individuals post online or via social media. Theft by social engineering is much easier than expending effort on hacking systems.
While it’s tempting to use public Wi-Fi networks, the issue is that just as you can connect a laptop to a free hotspot, so can anyone else. If they’re criminally minded, they can access data and plant viruses.
Another threat to counter comes from staff who connect their own devices to the company network or computer. Though should be given to limiting access to the firm’s Wi-Fi or physical network. The same applies to USB devices which could contain a virus.
Read More: Online Accounts
Planning for disaster should always be part of business housekeeping. Backing up data onto several separate devices regularly and keeping them off-site at different locations, is critical. Consider a combination of methods such as external hard drives, a computer elsewhere and cloud storage services such as Dropbox.
Want more advice like this? Take a look at our July/August digital issue of Bridal Buyer here.