Ask the Expert: Avoiding cyber attacksUpdated: 14th Mar 2014 at 08:46am
Graham Fern, technical director at Axon IT, offers advice to businesses on ensuring they aren't victims of a cyber attack.
Q: How can businesses avoid a cyber-attack?
Most businesses are data-dependent, so keeping that data safe should be high on your list of priorities. Yet many people still underestimate the threats, leaving their businesses vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
According to our security partner F-Secure, 87 per cent of SMEs have suffered some sort of security breach over the past year. 79 per cent of victims were targets of opportunity and63% were attacked by unauthorised outsiders. The average cost of these security breaches is £35-65k.
So what can you do?
• Install and maintain anti-virus from a reputable brand so that it is regularly updated and automatically patched. We work closely with F-Secure to ensure our customers are fully protected from the latest threats. When a new piece of malware is detected (and there are 180 million strands) it is quarantined by your anti-virus software, preventing a security breach.
• Backup your data regularly. Make it automated if possible. Keep your backup off-site so if your systems are breached you have a copy of all business critical data securely stored away from your premises.
• Protect your mobile devices. Cyber criminals are increasingly exploiting mobiles and tablets so they should all have mobile security running on them.
• Be password safe. Passwords should be alphanumeric, at least 14 characters and changed regularly. Never share or write them down. Use different passwords for each system to avoid a mass system breach if your password is stolen.
• Watch what you click on. People make mistakes and it can sometimes be difficult to judge, but be very wary of attachments, links or downloads. Make sure they are from reputable sources. Watch what permissions you give to apps and don’t click on adverts from obscure non-brand businesses.
• Secure your WiFi. Use WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access II) encryption rather than WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) - WEP is easier to crack.
In 1986 Graham Fern joined the RAF handling technical military hardware, software and highly advanced computer-driven simulators. He left the military in 2000 and joined a national IT company as IT Manager for Manchester. In 2001 Graham co-founded axon IT which now has turnover of more than £800,000.