You might be disturbed to learn that, according to a report by Trend Micro, Australia is second only to the US in terms of attacks by ransomware. Ransomware, for those who don’t know, is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their computer system until they pay a certain ransom. It’s important to note that there is no guarantee the ransomware will be removed once the money has been paid so, to keep your business safe, it’s better to avoid being attacked to begin with.

While much of the recent attention around hackers has been on large corporations such as Sony, Kmart, Target, etc., small to medium-sized businesses are coming increasingly under attack. In addition, small businesses are becoming more reliant on third-party services and an array of computing equipment, both of which may be vulnerable. So, how do you secure your business with limited resources? Here are some basic steps to take to ensure you’re more secure.

  1. Keep your PC protected – Move off of Windows XP (it’s disturbing the number of PCs still running this OS) as Microsoft stopped supporting it in 2014. The recent virus attack of Royal Melbourne Hospital’s computer system came about due to the virus infecting Windows XP machines and should serve as a lesson to all business owners. You should also ensure all software is kept up-to-date with automatic updates. Make sure your antivirus software and firewalls are maintained. Any credit card and customer details should be kept on a separate computer that isn’t used to access emails or the internet.
  2. Implement policies and procedures – The trend towards bringing your own device (BYOD) is not going away so it’s important to have firm policies and procedures in place regarding what employees can and can’t access and store on devices used for work. It’s also vital to ensure that employees understand the importance of security and that they are educated on the types of scams that may be perpetrated as well as what they should do if they see something fishy.
  3. Plan ahead – Make sure you store back-ups off site so that you can easily recover data from fire, flood, theft or hacking. Also check that your insurance policy will cover any downtime and other costs associated with being hacked. Using cloud-based storage/software will also mitigate some of the risk and may work out to be a lot cheaper than hosting everything on your own servers and covering the security costs yourself.
  4. Share your experiences – Should you be unfortunate enough to experience a cyber security breach, share it online at the Australian Cyber Security Centre website so that experts can gain an overall view of the threats that exist and develop strategies to overcome them.

With the level of threat to cyber security on the rise, it’s never been more important to ensure your business is safe. With almost $400,000 in financial losses reported in 2015, ransomware and malware cost businesses a lot of money, let alone the time lost and inconvenience incurred. By implementing a few basic strategies, you can ensure you don’t become a victim.