Are you an easy target for cybercrime?
Put yourself into the mind of a cybercriminal for a moment. Yes, I know you think you are far too righteous to even entertain the thought or couldn’t imagine yourself being so evil, but you do a similar thing every time you watch an action movie, murder thriller, or fantasy world epic – we all have the ability to identify with the baddies.
So, there you are scanning the Internet, looking for the big prize that will create a name for you in the cyber-villain underworld or simply attract an ill-gotten fortune. But while you are scheming, and planning the big heist – committing hours to coding, spamming, worming, lying and striving to crack the mega-hack – you can’t resist a few quick wins. And there you see, littering the cyber-highways, virtual streets full of easy targets: loosely gated websites, unwalled email accounts, easy-to-fathom passwords and unsuspecting clickers … by the bucketload.
What are you going to do? Yes – you want the big one – but surely all those complacent and unsuspecting sole-trader and small business targets look too inviting to resist.
Make yourself more effort than it’s worth
I was talking to someone recently who’d had a break-in at their home. If that has ever happened to you, you’ll know just how horrible it feels. They told me that the police said an interesting thing while they were investigating the scene. The officer explained that it was virtually impossible to stop someone getting into your house if they are really determined to enter. Often, the best that you can do is simply make yourself an unattractive target – or the least open house in the street.
Their advice went on to include suggestions like: sensor-activated security lights, making sure nothing of value is left visible from windows, lights on timers when you are not there, locks on gates, and a flashing box on the side of the wall indicating that you have an alarm (even if you don’t). In essence, if there are easier looking targets elsewhere – the thieves will go there instead.
The same rules apply to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime. Yes, as a contractor or small business you are a target for such attacks – the statistics prove that in abundance – but it is also easy, with a little bit of effort and discipline, to make sure that you are the least likely to be under threat.
Three things you SHOULD do today to keep your business safe online.
- Keep up to date: Whatever software you use, whether it is your Windows or Apple operating system or FreeAgent accounting software, you will occasionally get update (patch) notifications. These are not there just because the developers want to waste precious minutes of your working day in downtime, or because they have introduced a couple of new features that you will never need. The most important thing about an update is the critical vulnerability fixes that it provides.Always update immediately!
- Don’t open dodgy emails: The obvious ones are easy to spot, and we’ve all come across the long-lost relative’s fortune or only-living-heir stories, I’m sure. But there are many more sinister, cunning and deceptive attempts to trick you out of your money. From invoice attachments that you feel you ought to check out, to ever-so-slightly misspelt email addresses from familiar names, or those innocent-looking ones you click on without realising.Be ever-vigilant, all of the time!
- Don’t get held to ransom: Ransomware is the point at which it is too late, and a hacker has got into your system. The only way out of this is to have a back-up of everything, in the cloud, on another hard drive, or preferably both. Then you can wipe (or destroy) the computer that has been infected – but you still run the risk of your data being released into the world. To keep the hackers from holding you to ransom, keep your passwords secure, have quality firewalls installed and use the best antivirus software that money can buy.
Don’t skimp on cybersecurity.