Our increasingly digital world has brought convenience and efficiency, yet the shift online exposes businesses and customers to increased cyber threats.
No business, no matter how large or small, is immune to the threat of a cyber-attack. Prevention is better than cure, so the more you do to mitigate the risk, the better.
High-profile cyber security breaches may make headlines, but it is small businesses that are actually most at risk of an attack.
According to the Australian Institute of Technology (AIC), small businesses were among the most vulnerable sectors for cybercrime, and 22% of companies surveyed in 2023 reported suffering harm from cybercrime over the past 12 months.
The Australian Signals Directorate noted in its November 2023 Cyber Threat Report that the cost of cybercrime rose by 14% from 2021 to 2022, with the average cost to small businesses being $46,000.
These figures demonstrate the importance of protecting your business from cyber threats. Our cyber security checklist will help you get started.
Your first step is to review the external access points to your business’s online systems and platforms.
Unless you have someone with the right qualifications on your team, you should employ an expert to do a ‘fence check’ and identify any vulnerabilities such as old API (Application Programming Interface) keys that link your website to payment processing platforms or legacy software that doesn’t offer the right level of protection.
A cyber security expert can act as an ‘ethical hacker’, employing the tactics cybercriminals use to try to access the back end of your business. They can also advise you about backing up your systems; this way if hackers block access to everything and demand a ransom, you will still have access to the information you need.
Internal incidents can result from both malicious or inadvertent actions. Safeguard your business by controlling access to sensitive data and discouraging the sharing of usernames and passwords.
Maintaining awareness and implementing stringent access controls are essential safeguards against both malicious and unintentional threats from within.
Implement training on secure password practices, recognising phishing attempts and scams and the the potential risks of sharing sensitive information. Foster a cybersecurity-aware culture through ongoing awareness sessions and simulated cyberattack drills to enhance prevention.
When employees leave your business, they should no longer have access to any of your digital platforms or systems. Create a clear offboarding process that terminates accounts and removes access to computer systems and cloud-based networks as part of your cyber security checklist.
Are you prepared in the case of a cyber incident?
In the worst-case scenario, if someone does manage to hack your systems and access data relating to your business and clients, you should have the protocols to deal with it.
In the same way that you carry out fire drills to ensure that everyone knows what to do in the case of a fire, you should have protocols to respond to a cyber incident. This includes defining roles and responsibilities and having a plan in place to issue written notifications to the relevant authorities and stakeholders.
Your cyber security checklist must include insurance to offset the potential financial damage caused by a cyber incident. A broker can help you choose the right policy and will explain the small print so you have the right protection measures in place.
The most frustrating thing about cybercrime is that attackers are always coming up with new and creative ways to hack into businesses. As your business evolves, you need to stay on top of your defences with regular security reviews, system updates and staff training.
The penalties for losing customer information to hackers because you didn’t have the right protection in place can run into the many millions of dollars and even if you don’t get fined, an incident can severely damage your reputation. Avoid the stress by working with a professional cyber security team and give yourself peace of mind.
Need help reviewing your cyber security? Talk to AFS & Associates today.