Cyber crime can be an annoying and time-consuming menace for small businesses. Computer crime is on the increase, but many small and medium-sized businesses lack the resources to deal with it effectively, and resort to burying their heads in the sand and hoping it will never happen to them.
MPs warned last year that low-level cyber crime, mostly financial, was becoming so prevalent and commonplace that it was falling into a ‘black hole’, with most never reported to police.
Cyber crime can take many forms, but is often related to financial or phishing scams, which aim to get financial details so fraudulent activity can take place, or paralysing networks with botnets or malware, which spreads viruses and stops websites working properly. Increasingly, attacks on computer networks are designed to steal data which can then be sold on.
Solutions are hard to come by, as the exact nature of the problem varies from case to case and as hacking techniques evolve. Unlike telephone fraud, which also remains a significant problem, but requires human-to-human contact, cyber crime can affect vast numbers of machines and website simultaneously.
There are no guarantees, but here are our top five tips to give yourself the best chance of avoiding a cyber attack:
1) Use trusted anti-virus software protect your PC from viruses, malware, trojans, worms and more, and get regular scans to detect any potential problems. Costs vary enormously, so check the detail of what’s included and if in doubt get a higher level.
2) Don’t click on any email or twitter links that look strange most web crime still circulates via email, so be alert to this and don’t click on or open anything you don’t recognise, or from an unknown sender.
3) Keep your software up-to-date – Hackers exploit software flaws, but makers often provide patches when these become evident, which you’ll need to update to make use of. Don’t ignore your computer’s attempts to upload new versions of programs.
4) Back-up your data that way, even if the worst does happen you have a working version to restore to. Ideally keep the back-up off site, or in a fire safe.
5) Register for Nominet’s new anti e-crime services – The internet domain-names registrar is launching Nominet Cyber Assist, aimed at SMEs, and is offering 1,000 businesses the chance to try it for free. Register your interest in the service, which aims to keep websites secure and operating.
Cyber crime will always be out there and it could still happen to you, but following the tips above will give you the best chance of avoiding it.