Protecting Your Small Business from Cyber Threats: A Beginner's Guide

September 7, 2023

When you’re building, growing or taking a business online - a proficient, informative and conversion-led website is essential. Bringing that website to life can be an exciting time. From the design and branding to the copy and messaging and everything in between - there’s a lot to keep you busy. But one integral element that cannot be overlooked is your cyber security.

Cyber security describes the protection of databases, systems, programs and networks from digital attacks. In practice, this could be your email list, your businesses’ sales data, bank account details - or, perhaps most damagingly, the personal information of your customers. Inadequate cyber security can have detrimental effects on your business and your customers - including losing money and having private information leaked. Recently in Australia, big corporations like Medibank and Optus have fallen victim to cyber attacks.

If you need advice on cyber security, government resources like the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Small Business Cyber Security Guide are a great place to start. For personalised advice or a specific problem, a cyber security mentor from the Digital Solutions Program can provide expertise tailored to your business security needs. Below is an overview of cyber security for small businesses to get you started.

Types of cyber security

There are a number of different cyber security categories, with different sources breaking down different categories. The main types of cyber security include:

Network security: This refers to your network of computers and other devices. Whether you have a small office or large headquarters space, your network is what helps your team communicate internally. Unfortunately, it’s also what opens your business up to external hackers.

Cloud security: If you’re using cloud-based platforms to store your data and/or important files, ensure you’re using a reputable supplier with in-built security tools - like Google Cloud or Dropbox. Learn more here.

Application security: If your business offers your product or services in an app, ensure you’re using an app from a trusted and reputable developer - as they will build in security measures during design and development. Learn more here.

Internet of Things security: Most commonly referred to as ‘IoT Security’, this cyber security category consists of any remote server your devices log into. For example, your laptop that you work from at cafes, airports, different offices; the printer you send a document to - even your Wi-Fi router that needs to be unplugged and reset occasionally. Threats come at any stage in the IoT journey, and experts recommend conducting a security risk assessment to identify vulnerabilities.

Tips for small businesses

If you’re a small business owner wanting to assess and/or improve your cyber security, the best thing to do is speak with an expert. They will talk you through the specifics of what’s required for your business setup. If you’re concerned about the budget for bigger companies, a cyber security mentor through the Digital Solutions Program can provide tailored expertise. As a starting point, you can bolster your cyber security by:

  • Adding multi-factor authentication (MFA) to your login - which requires two or more proofs of identity to grant access to a page
  • Adopting passphrases instead of passwords - which a sentence-like string of words to grant access that can go up to 100 characters, rather than one word with up to 16 characters
  • Ensuring your employees are trained by cybersecurity professionals to protect your business as much as possible

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