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Top 5 tips to improving your IT security

According to the Department of Business Innovation and Skills, security breaches have been experienced by 81% of large organisations and 60% of small businesses. The message is crystal clear.

You may believe that you’re that elusive salmon in an ocean of full of easy-to-catch cod. But you don’t need to be individually targeted. Those responsible for cyber attacks pump out millions of emails every month, casting the net wide to catch as many as they can.

Whether your business is small or large, IT security is vital to protect your business from attack. 

Tip 1 – User training and awareness are essential

Even if you invest in all the latest tools, you’re still susceptible to IT security breaches. Why? User error. Your team can inadvertently click buttons or take actions that open the door to thieves and viruses.

Getting users to understand the threats that are out there – and how their actions can protect your business – is simple but crucial.

  • For example, you can invest in user training that encompasses testing through non-threat-containing-spoof-emails.
  • You should also train your team on the importance of having strong passwords.

You need to make everyone in your organisation aware of the wide variety – and constantly evolving – nature of the threats. Regular training sessions are the most effective way to do this.

Tip 2 – Implement robust practices and processes

You can’t control the actions of potential fraudsters. But you can have strong internal processes and practices to make it less likely that your business will be the victim of cybercrime.

A prime example: a fraudster will send an ostensibly legitimate email, purporting to come from someone senior within your organisation, asking for a bill to be paid urgently. The recipient, eager to please the boss, pays up immediately. And you’re left out of pocket.

  • Business email compromise (BEC) – or CEO fraud – is relatively unsophisticated yet incredibly effective.
  • According to the FBI, around 22,000 businesses have lost more than £2.4bn to it over the last three years.

However, it’s simple to avoid it, too. For example, ensuring that your payments have to be authorised by multiple people will prevent fraud of this kind occurring at your business.

Tip 3 - Invest in next generation security devices

In other words, firewalls are your friends.

Old technology – technology that doesn’t pick up the latest threats and viruses – is often the culprit for IT security breaches.

  • Breaches are expensive, with costs ranging from hundreds to sums of bankrupting magnitude.
  • What’s more, if you don’t have effective backup and disaster recovery strategies in place then the entirety of your data – from client information to accounts and images – could be lost.
  • You also need to consider the cost in lost productivity that results when your team is unable to work.

So, while the latest firewalls may not come cheap, you need to balance the investment against the potential cost of a breach. The right firewall will look after your network based on your IT security policies.

Tip 4 – Don’t neglect email filtering and scanning

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your IT security, you also need to pay attention to email filtering and scanning.

  • You’ll make your network less susceptible to attack if you install the latest software, firmware and antivirus measures.

Remember, effective email spam filtering and virus protection will scan inbound and outbound messages protecting your business as a whole from external and internal threats.

Tip 5 – Invest in a strong backup and disaster recovery plan

You need a strong IT security policy to act as a compass for your business.

  • Include information such as user privileges and limitations as well as identifying data assets.
  • You need a backup plan for your data, as well as a disaster recovery plan in the event that the worst happens.
  • This should be monitored and updated constantly to ensure it remains fit for purpose.
  • Finally, you need an action plan in the event of a breach.

You’ll never be 100% protected, as people – who have a tendency to open and click random items – are involved.

However, follow these steps and you’ll increase the likelihood that dangerous items won’t reach your users and – if they do get through – your team are alert and unwilling to click without thinking.

In other words, even if you are caught, you’ll have your scissors at the ready to make a hole in the net!

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