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IT Threat Preparation Tips for Australian Small Businesses

Cybercrime isn’t strictly reserved for large corporations with billions to lose. In fact, in 2022, 62% of the ransomware attacks were on small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs). That’s one small business being attacked by a cyber threat every 10 minutes! 

But don’t panic. There is much that you can do to protect your interests against cybercrime and in this article, we’re going to share some IT threat preparation tips so that you can effectively keep the proverbial wolves from the door. Here’s everything you need to know… 

Don’t go it alone

Before we get stuck into IT threat prep, it’s important that you strongly consider outsourcing your cyber-security requirements to the experts. This is a real and dire threat and cybercrime is forever on the rise as malware becomes more and more sophisticated. 

We understand how overwhelming it can feel when you start tapping into such a frightening subject. And to make matters worse, the technical aspect of cybercrime can be even more crippling, especially when you might not be especially tech-savvy.  

With reputable cybersecurity experts on your side, however, providing you with 24/7 protection and support, to put your mind at ease and focus on doing what you do best. 

In any case, here’s some further information on the steps that you should take to safeguard your small business from – and respond to – potential cybersecurity threats. 

1 – Make a plan

First, if you wish to prevent and be prepared for any potential risks, you’ll need a plan; a business continuity plan. 

  • Brush up on the legal IT requirements (see Spam Act 2003Electronic Transactions Act 2001, and the relevant privacy laws). 
  • Research and understand the most common / likely risks. 
  • Learn about the latest scams. 
  • Develop relevant IT procedures and policies (e.g., hire IT experts, back up data, update software, regularly audit your systems, strengthen passwords, etc.). 
  • Consider investing in cyber risk and liability insurance. 
  • Install quality anti-virus and spyware software.
  • Limit and control access to your computers. 
  • Train your staff for cyber safety and awareness. 
  • Put a recovery plan in place. 

2 – Be prepared to respond quickly in the event of a threat 

The sooner you act in the event of a cyber-security breach; the sooner you can get your business back on track. 

Contain & assess

  • Check for any suspicious activity – especially regarding access to customer info and company bank transactions. 
  • Assess what information may have been compromised, the extent of the breach, and what can be done to resolve the issue (e.g., make sure staff ignore dodgy emails with links, regularly backup your system, shut down the breached system, change all computer access, hire an external cyber security expert). 
  • Make sure you assess the breached data and determine if its compromise can result in serious harm (whether a financial loss or otherwise). 
  • Report all breaches to the Australian Cyber Security Centre. 

Notify your bank and any potentially affected customers

  • If financial details have been accessed, notify your bank and suspend all accounts.
  • Contact the police immediately. 
  • If serious harm is caused, notify the relevant suppliers/clients and tell them how they can protect themselves while you continue to resolve the problem. 
  • Support any affected staff accordingly. 

3 – How to recover from a cyber-security threat 

To prevent any issues in the future you should do your best to investigate and learn about what has gone wrong in the first place. 

  • Investigate the data breach (ideally with an IT or cyber security expert assisting you). 
  • Monitor all systems closely for any signs of suspicious activity for the weeks that follow. 
  • Assess how you were able to handle/respond to the crisis and make necessary changes/improvements. 
  • Update your IT security systems.
  • Update your cyber security emergency plan.
  • Continue training staff in updated policies. 
  • Be transparent with customers and update/notify them accordingly. 
  • Use social media and your website to inform all relevant parties of what transpired and reassure them that any issues have been successfully resolved. In situations like this, communication is essential for maintaining brand integrity. 
  • It’s always worth developing new marketing strategies to facilitate a strong recovery when your business is back up and running. 

4 – Consider cloud computing for your business 

There are many practical advantages to cloud computing, with security being a big one. The fact is, having all of your business-critical data stored onsite isn’t always the safest option. Not only are you more at risk of cybercrime if your local network isn’t properly protected, but your premises will also be at greater risk from physical theft (break-ins) and data loss from natural disasters (earthquakes/fires). 

By backing your business-critical data up on the Cloud, however, with a reputable cloud service provider, you can enjoy a number of sophisticated security advantages that are well worth exploring further. 

Take the pressure off your in-house IT department

Depending on the size of your SME, you may have an IT department of your own (whether that be one or several employees). Consult with them and identify how competent they are in cyber security and/or how much their current workload may impact their ability to effectively safeguard your business from external threats. 

In some cases, your IT experts may be more than qualified to handle your cyber security effectively. However, for smaller departments or individual IT guys, outsourcing your cyber security requirements to a trusted third party may be preferential, thus allowing them to focus on their other duties. 

Conclusion 

This isn’t a drill. It doesn’t matter how small and unassuming your business is, you are just as likely to be a target as anyone else. 

So, take the necessary action and start safeguarding your assets from potential cyber threats today. 

If this is something that concerns you and you perhaps feel overwhelmed by everything, please feel free to contact us and we will happily answer any questions you may have. 

It all sounds incredibly complicated, but we can make the cyber security of your business effortless.  

Citations

  1. https://www.marshadvantage.com.au/news-insights/cybercrime-rise-on-australian-smes.html
  2. https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/natural-disaster/disaster-hub/small-business/it-threat