It’s no surprise that businesses of all sizes have seen a significant increase in cyberattacks and data breaches over the past three years. writes Nadia Kadhim, co-founder of IT security consultancy Naq.
You’re not at risk, are you? Bad
Since March 2020, businesses have reported a 31% increase in cybersecurity incidents, while 41% of UK small and micro businesses have been victims of cyberattacks in the last 12 months.
As a freelancer or entrepreneur, you may not think you are at risk of becoming a target for cybercriminals. After all, you don’t have the same amount of data or assets as a big business.
However, smaller businesses are more likely to be attacked than their larger counterparts, in part because criminals know they often have fewer resources and are less likely to have strong security measures in place.
It’s hard to remember a time when the contract industry was more in the crosshairs of hackers
So, in the wake of hackers recently targeting a conglomerate of entrepreneurs, plus an umbrella company, and amid fears about cybersecurity and the resilience of contractor recruitment agencies, how should directors of limited liability companies- do they protect themselves and their business against cybercrime?
Here exclusively for ContractorUK, and ahead of our partner Integro Accounting, free but run by security experts webinar on cybersecurity as an entrepreneur, let’s explore the best ways to protect your data and that of your customers. Even though the cybersecurity threat is growing exponentially.
Secure your connections, including your home ones
While working remotely is probably nothing new to you if you’re an entrepreneur, one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your business from cyberattacks is to make sure your connections are secure. .
If your home is your main place of work, start by changing the standard password issued by your Internet service provider. Although some of the default passwords issued with your Wi-Fi router may seem long, unique, and secure, anyone with access to this information can easily gain access to your network, change passwords, and potentially access your files.
For an extra layer of security, you should always use a virtual private network when connecting to the internet. This is especially important if you’re connected to an unsecured Wi-Fi network, such as those found in libraries, cafes, and coworking spaces.
A VPN encrypts your internet traffic, making it harder for cybercriminals to intercept or hack your data. On top of that, a VPN can also help hide your IP address, making it harder for criminals to track your online activity or locate your physical address.
Entrepreneurs, there are many different VPN providers out there, so be sure to research the one that best suits your needs.
Keep an eye on all your devices
If you use your personal mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, for business purposes, it’s important to have a mobile device management system.
An MDM system allows you to remotely manage and control access to your devices and the data stored on them. This can include installing and managing apps, setting password policies, remotely wiping devices, and managing user permissions.
Although more commonly used by larger companies to manage their employees’ devices, an MDM system can be an invaluable tool for any freelancer or entrepreneur who relies on their mobile phone or multiple devices for business purposes.
If one of your devices is lost or stolen, a device management system can ensure that your data and that of your customers remains secure by remotely wiping the device and locking it so that it can no longer be used .
Entrepreneurs, this may seem obvious, especially if you work in IT, but get serious and even regimented about backing up your data regularly.
In addition to preserving your files in the event of a sudden device failure or loss of power, backing up your data regularly can make it easier to access your valuable information if your device is infected with ransomware.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that can block access to your device or files unless you pay a ransom.
In almost all cases, there is no guarantee that paying the ransom will give you access to your data. Backing up your files regularly means you won’t lose any critical information or work, even if your device is infected.
Although there are many ways to back up your data, we recommend a reputable cloud storage provider (such as Dropbox or iDrive), which has built-in encryption and automatic backup features to ensure your data is safe and safe to download. regular in the cloud.
Keep an inventory of all your accounts and services
As a freelancer or entrepreneur, chances are you have a range of different devices, programs, and services that you rely on to get your work done.
A new customer might mean installing additional software, signing up for a new service, or creating an account with another communication tool, it can all quickly add up to quite a mix!
It’s essential to keep track of all the different assets you rely on for work and all associated passwords, usernames, and contact information for customer support. Creating an account map – a list of all your open accounts and services – will quickly highlight all the places where you currently store data.
Once you have a clear overview of all your work-related accounts, you can start thinking about which ones may pose the greatest risk to your cybersecurity and put measures in place to protect them, like 2FA, or shut them down. completely if they are no longer used.
Perform incident response drills
In addition to having the necessary systems and processes in place to protect your LLC from a cyberattack, it’s also essential to have an incident response plan in place in case the worst happens.
Your plan should include actions such as:
- identify who to contact in the event of an incident;
- which devices should be isolated from your network;
- what data should be retained; and
- how you will restore lost or damaged data.
Entrepreneurs, if you work with particularly sensitive data, you will also need to consider whether any data breaches should be reported to the Office of the Information Commissioner.
The most essential part of your incident response plan is practice, practice, practice. In other words, an actual security incident shouldn’t be the first time your plan is used. Schedule time to review a “testing incident,” note specifically what happened, which accounts or documents were compromised, and what steps you took to resolve the situation.
Finally, remember that small is not somehow immune
Cybersecurity should be a priority for any freelancer or entrepreneur, regardless of the size of your business. By following the advice in this article, you can help ensure that your business is as secure as possible against the growing threat of cyberattacks.
You can contact us to find out more about protecting your and your customers’ data or to schedule an incident response exercise to be prepared should the worst happen.
Finally, do you want personalized support in terms of cybersecurity?
At the very least, consider us – Naq – to be industry-leading cybersecurity experts and in partnership with Integro Accounting, we’re hosting a FREE 30-minute webinar on how to keep your business cyber secure. ‘entrepreneur. You’ll learn how to prevent a cyberattack and you can participate in an open Q&A session with our technical team to ask your own questions specific to your business.
To reserve your place at the online event, scheduled for Wednesday, May 4 – 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m., follow the link: FREE Cyber Security Webinar.