Protecting your office from cyber attacks

Protecting your office from cyber attacksCyber attacks and cyber crime are on the rise. According to research carried out by the UK government, approximately 8% of UK businesses were victims of cyber crimes in 2012 [1], leading to billions of pounds in damages. Researchers expect these figures to rise in the future too, as more businesses expand their operations online.

Protecting your business and your office from cyber attacks is of paramount importance. Failure to do so may result in your business being compromised leading to massive costs and losses in revenue. This article will list 5 tips to help protect your office from cyber attacks.

1 - Use antivirus and malware protection software

Viruses and malware programs are the most common threats to cyber security. These specially designed programs allow hackers and crackers to infiltrate and take over networks, often allowing them access to all the computers connected to the network as well as all the data stored on these computers.

Anti virus and malware protection software are special software programs designed to detect and defeat antivirus and malware. These software usually scan email attachments and files looking for viruses and malware, producing alerts whenever a contagion is found. They also periodically perform full hard drive scans looking for viruses and malware that have hidden themselves in the computer's system files.

While antivirus and malware protection software are a powerful first line of defence against hackers and crackers, they are not, unfortunately, infallible. If they're not updated regularly, they may be unable to detect the newest and most powerful viruses and malware, making them useless. As such, it's important to perform regular virus and malware definition updates for your antivirus and malware programs.

2 - Encrypt all business related data

Encryption is a powerful technique for locking down data and making it unavailable to the prying eyes of hackers and crackers.

Encryption works by obfuscating the contents of a file, making it unreadable without special software. Any hackers or crackers will be unable to read these encrypted files without decrypting them, which may take decades to do.

Ideally, all business related data should be encrypted, including data stored on usb keys, portable hard drives, laptops, and PCs.

3 - Use wired networking wherever possible

Wi-Fi, while a useful technology, can be infiltrated by skilled hackers and crackers. By using special software designed to break Wi-Fi security keys, they can uncover the codes needed to access the wireless network, leaving it open and vulnerable.

Wired networks, while cumbersome and fiddly to install, are more secure than wireless networks, as any hackers or crackers will need to physically connect their computing devices to the network in order to infiltrate it.

Ideally, wired networks should be used in place of wireless networks whenever possible. However, if wireless networks are required, they should be updated to use the newest WPA2 security encryption protocol. While the older WEP security encryption protocol issued security keys that could be decoded within a matter of minutes, the new WPA2 keys can take up to a decade to decode.

4 - Educate all employees about the importance of network security

Even the best network security can be compromised through user negligence. As such, all users on a network should be educated and informed of the steps required of them to ensure network security remains uncompromised.

This education usually centres on email, as it is the most common form of infiltration used by hackers and crackers. All employees should be advised not to open email attachments, especially from senders not already in their address books.

Ideally, an internet usage policy should be implemented too. This policy should detail what employees can and cannot do on a network. Under ideal circumstances, the policy should bar users from visiting non work related websites as these websites are the most likely to contain dangerous viruses and malware.

5 - Install a firewall

Firewalls are special pieces of software designed to keep hackers and crackers out of a system. They work by monitoring all incoming and outgoing connections on a network looking for unauthorised connections. If an unauthorised connection is discovered, the firewall blocks it, keeping the network safe.

Firewalls come in two varieties: software and hardware. Software firewalls are usually installed on individual internet connected devices, while hardware firewalls connect directly to the routers powering a network.

Ideally, your network should be fitted with a firewall designed to block any unauthorised connection attempts to computers connected to your network.

Summing Up

Every year, hundreds of thousands of businesses around the world are affected by cyber crime, causing untold damages and losses in revenue. Make sure to implement the 5 tips listed in this article to protect your business from attacks from hackers and crackers looking to do you harm.