Digital security - Protect your small business now

More than ten per cent of UK SMEs have endured a digital security breach as a result of employee error.

This is according to a new report from McAfee, which found that five per cent of employees themselves admit to being the cause of a breach.

McAfee’s figures suggest that almost 70 per cent of firms are attempting to educate their employees about digital security, but the frequency with which breaches occur indicates that this training is not sufficient.

Digital security should be a key priority for businesses of every size. We have compiled a series of simple ways in which you can protect yourself.

Train yourself, and train your employees

You and your employees are the most important elements of your digital security strategy. It is vital that you are all properly trained. There is an ever growing number of firms and individuals who can offer high quality training in this field, and an investment in this area could save you significant sums in the future.

At the very least, you should ensure that your employees understand and adhere to the digital security policy explained later in this article.

Strengthen your passwords

For all their drawbacks, passwords remain the primary means by which users are authenticated. Until developers come up with a better way of proving who you are, you need to ensure that your passwords are as secure as they possibly can be.

It is all too common for people to use the same password for multiple services. You should never do this, as a single breach could provide nefarious users with access to many accounts. You should also never use personal information such as your date of birth.

For maximum security, you might consider using a password manager to generate and store random character strings. This is one of the most effective means by which you can boost the strength of your passwords.

Update your software

It is vital that you keep all of your software properly ‘patched’ and up to date. Hackers exploit security holes in everyday software, and you can help to prevent this by ensuring that you are running the latest versions.

This is particularly important if you use software such as Wordpress to run your website. Packages of this sort can become extremely vulnerable to hackers if they are allowed to become out of date. Many server systems provide the option to automatically update when a new version becomes available. Contact your hosting company if you do not know how to do this.

Invest in anti-virus and firewall

Sturdy anti-virus software and a proper firewall are absolute necessities. There is a huge range of packages available, although you will find that the number of potentials diminishes if you are using a Mac.

In fact, that range can be dizzying. How do you choose between the many on offer? Cost will of course be a factor. There are some free anti-virus packages, and many of these are fine for home use. You should think carefully, however, before using anything other than an enterprise-class solution for your business. This will require an investment, but again, the potential savings are enormous.

Write a policy

It is vital that you have a comprehensive digital security policy in place. This document will codify the acceptable practices regarding things like internet use, portable devices, password strength, and so on.

You may wish to draw up your security policy with the help of an expert. Indeed, you might want to do this at the same time as your training. Once you have written your digital security guide, make sure that it is circulated around staff and that they understand the importance of adhering to it. Look out for more on writing a digital security policy on Simply Business next week.