Cyber-attacks are often in the news these days, and they can do far more damage to a business than simply leaking data and information.

It is vital that business owners, no matter how large or small their business, understand all the potential risks and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

Some small-business owners think that they are not worth the bother for hackers due to their relatively low profile amongst their bigger corporate rivals, but in fact no one is immune to digital attack.

Small businesses are actually a prime target for computer hackers precisely because many fail to take any steps towards securing their websites, networks, and data, making easy work for the bad guys.

What makes your business vulnerable?

Obviously, a shop owner that left their premises unlocked and unguarded overnight is much more likely to be the victim of a crime than the neighboring store that has alarms, shutters, and heavy duty locks.

The same is true in the virtual landscape, but for those that are unwary, it might be more difficult to realize that their digital doors are wide open.

Taking some basic precautions such as changing passwords regularly, making sure your Wi-Fi network has a protected log-in, and updating and maintaining virus protection software are all things that you can do that will really make a difference.

Making sure that popular software suites are regularly updated with patches is really important as well because vulnerabilities and “back doors” often come to light and are pounced on by malicious hackers.

Putting yourself and your business at risk is one thing, but allowing private and personal data that customers have entrusted you with to be lost can really cause problems.

Several recent studies have shown that consumers are becoming increasingly wary of giving their financial details away to websites that they don’t trust, and companies that do suffer data breaches can find their reputations suffer fatal damage.

What can you do?

Business owners know better than anyone else that outlays need to be pegged back, and nobody wants to spend money on preparing for something that is highly unlikely to happen.

However, the old adage of “hope for the best, plan for the worst” is also very apt for anyone who wants to be able to recover quickly from disaster if it should strike.

Fortunately, as well as the simple preventative measures already mentioned, there are many other things that can be done to mitigate the effects of a cyber-attack.

Having a regular data backup regime is essential, and that can be something as simple as having an extra server or dedicated hard drives to store data that can be reloaded as needed.

Off-site storage is even more secure. This can take the form of physical media transported to a different secure location, or more commonly today, it can be a cloud system that offers multi-location accessibility.

Continuity plan

Of course, the worst kind of cyber-attack can lead to far more than a simple loss of data – whole systems can be left inoperable.

Fortunately, there are extremely cost-effective solutions to plan against this type of eventuality. Having a
disaster recovery plan can offer peace of mind that your business can get back up and running after any catastrophe, whether as the result of a cyber-attack, other man-made disaster, or even a severe weather event.

Access to temporary office space, having sufficient power supplies, lines of communications, and even whole new computer systems means that even the most comprehensively damaging circumstances can be bounced back from in no time at all.

Minimizing the negative fallout in this way means that any interruptions to trading can be reduced and customers can have confidence in your businesses abilities to weather the storm.

Be aware

Good continuity planning can only be put in place if you are actually aware of the possible threats that your business might face.

Unfortunately, when it comes to cyber-attacks, it’s a continual cat-and-mouse game between the hackers and the software developers and security analysts.

For your own part, you can consider what could damage your IT systems and work out how you might cope with part or all of your systems going down.

Make sure you have compartmentalized options and backup systems that can deal with many day-to-day problems without any significant interruption to services; however, for the worst type of incident, only a proper continuity contingency plan will give you full confidence.

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