Over the last few years, the dangers of cybercrime have grown exponentially, and online criminality now poses a significant threat to companies of all sizes in all sectors.
Unfortunately, there is a common misconception among many Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) that hackers exclusively target larger firms. In truth, the opposite is the case, and online criminals are increasingly preferring to attack SMEs that often take a lax approach to online security, believing their companies aren’t big enough or profitable enough to be a sufficient temptation.
The phenomenal growth in cybercrime
In 2015, the total revenue generated by cybercrime amounted to $3 trillion – a figure that is expected to double to $6 trillion through 2021, with no signs of slowing.
Indeed, global cybercrime is predicted to continue growing each year by 15% over the next five years to reach a somewhat staggering total of $10.5 trillion by 2025, making it more profitable than the total sales of illegal drugs worldwide.
Steps all companies should take for added online protection
If your firm operates in any way online (and, let’s face it, what company doesn’t these days), there are a few sensible steps you can take to improve your security online:
1. Software and Operating System (OS) updates
Coding companies are in a constant battle with hackers to keep their software safe from attacks. While all programs go through rigorous development and testing phases using platforms like Spectral to make them safe before public release, online criminals frequently find ways to exploit undetected flaws or backdoors in apps.
For this reason, responsible development companies regularly make updates or add patches to their packages so, when you’re prompted to use a new version of an app, you should install it immediately for maximum protection.
2. Install a firewall and anti-virus/anti-malware protection
At the very least, your company should have basic protection in the form of firewalls and specialist anti-virus/anti-malware detection software installed on all machines.
3. Educate yourself and your employees
Unfortunately, studies frequently find that humans are the weakest link when it comes to company security breaches. No matter how much time and money you spend on protecting your firm’s IT, your efforts will be largely wasted if you don’t fully educate your team on staying safe online and recognizing the tell-tale signs of the most common forms of attack.
4. Avoid sharing account passwords
One of the most common ways hackers gain access to company data is by cracking easy-to-guess username/password combinations. To protect yourself from this form of attack, you should insist all company employees use complex, alphanumeric passwords unique to their account, i.e. not shared across other platforms like personal email or social accounts. You should also insist all users update passwords regularly.
5. Hire a skilled service provider
Another common misconception among SME firms is that expert IT services are exclusively in the price range of larger companies. While it’s true that IT provision used to be expensive, with the growth of cloud computing companies, professional networking services are now more affordable than ever. Handing your firm’s digital requirements to a third-party provider will give you complete peace of mind over your IT, including 24/7/365 support.