Protecting your small business from increasing Cyber Security Threats

August 25, 2023 September 1st, 2023
Cyber Security and your Small Business

Small businesses in Australia, much like elsewhere in the world, should prioritise cybersecurity due to the growing threat landscape. The Australian government and other business bodies have been sounding the alarm every more loudly about the importance of cybersecurity. They’ve recognized the massive potential losses for businesses, particularly in sectors not traditionally tech-focused, like agriculture. By staying informed and proactive, we can mitigate these risks together.

We’ve put together a key cybersecurity concerns that you need to become familiar with so that you can mitigate your own risks and exposure. 

  • Phishing Attacks: Cybercriminals often use phishing emails to trick employees into revealing sensitive information or installing malware. This involves sending emails that are designed to look genuine but aim to trick you into paying fake bills or revealing private information.  Training employees to recognize and report phishing attempts is essential.
  • Ransomware: Ransomware attacks can encrypt a business’s data and demand payment for its release. Regularly backing up data and educating staff about the risks are crucial steps in defense.
  • Outdated Software: Software vulnerabilities can be exploited if they aren’t patched. Ensure all software, including operating systems and applications, are regularly updated. Consider software updates as routine maintenance, much like servicing a vehicle. These updates fix vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit.
  • Inadequate Network Security: Using weak passwords, not updating firewalls, and not having a secure Wi-Fi network can expose the business to cyber threats. Ensure your Wi-Fi, whether at your office or farm, is secured with a strong password. It’s akin to ensuring your property’s gates are locked.
  • Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policies: Employees using personal devices to access company data can pose a risk if those devices are compromised or lost. Implementing strict BYOD policies can help mitigate this risk.
  • Insider Threats: Sometimes, the threat comes from within, either due to disgruntled employees or simple mistakes. Regular training and strict access controls can help.
  • Lack of Employee Training: A well-informed workforce is one of the best defenses against cyber threats. Regular training sessions on the importance of cybersecurity and safe online practices are essential.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Australia has the Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme under the Privacy Act. Small businesses need to be aware of their obligations under this and other relevant regulations.
  • Physical Security: Physical theft of devices like laptops or external hard drives can also lead to data breaches.
  • Cloud Security: As businesses move to cloud-based solutions, understanding the security measures of these platforms and ensuring safe practices are important.
  • Supply Chain Vulnerabilities: Businesses should ensure their suppliers and partners also follow good cybersecurity practices.
  • Incident Response Planning: Having a plan in place for when a security breach occurs can make the difference between a quick recovery and prolonged disruption.
  • Backup and Recovery: Regularly backing up business data and testing the recovery process is crucial to ensure business continuity in case of cyber-attacks.
  • Mobile Security: With the increasing use of mobile devices for business, ensuring these devices are secure is critical.
  • Web Application Vulnerabilities: If the business operates websites or web applications, they can be vulnerable to attacks if not properly secured.

Given the evolving nature of cyber threats, it’s essential for small business owners to stay informed and regularly review and update their cybersecurity strategies and measures. Investing in cybersecurity is not only a matter of protecting data but also of preserving the business’s reputation and trustworthiness in the eyes of customers and partners. For more information, the Australian government has put together some handy guides to help protect your small business. They are worth a read.