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How to protect your business

Hardly a week goes by without news of another business facing the threat of a DDoS attack. Distributed denial of service attacks, or DDoS as it is more commonly known, occur when hackers flood a network or server with requests making it unavailable to other legitimate users of the service. These, coupled with the startling Heartbleed security risk that left many vulnerable to data breeches worldwide, has prompted many businesses to become more aware of their current security provisions, or lack thereof.

The issue with these security threats isn’t just the temporary unavailability of a service, or the all-important loss of valuable customer or company data, but also the wider impact it has on a business’ brand credibility and the bottom line. Recent DDoS instances that have seen popular services made unavailable for hours at a time and held to ransom, which coupled with the negative publicity, has inflicting lasting brand reputation damage on the companies targeted. It isn’t just big companies that need to take these online threats more seriously though, but all businesses which have an online presence, regardless of size or industry.

Since Edward Snowdon’s revelations about the NSA and Internet security, many organisations have taken security into their own hands. Initiatives such as ‘Reset the Net’ have seen companies across the globe sign a petition to make internet security a way of life and change our perception of online threats. But what steps should small and medium sized businesses across Europe be taking in order to protect themselves? And is there enough information available to educate them on the dangers?

It may sound daunting, but don’t worry: you don’t need to take radical action and implement huge changes straight away. Start with the small things, such as auditing your current security procedures. Assess where possible security threats may come from and what the weak entry points to your business may be. Do your employees bring their own devices into the workplace, for example? Do you want to encourage remote/flexible working, but not sure if your firewall or VPN setup is up to the job? How do employees share data within the organisation and with third parties? Once you’ve taken these into consideration you’ll have a better idea of what parts of your network need to be examined further.

Numerous reports have found that one of the biggest threats to businesses’ information security is actually their own employees. Most of the time, that’s not as a result of malicious actions, but more due to a lack of understanding of the consequences their actions. Analyst firm Bloor Research suggests that effective staff training can halve the number of insider breaches, by ensuring employees understand the importance of information security and their role in protecting businesses critical information.

Technology has come such a long way in the last few years, especially when it comes to online security and how this can be effectively and efficiently managed for any size of business. All businesses need to make sure that they keep up-to-date with security developments, so that they can implement updated processes and remain safe online. You might not be able to predict if, or when, hackers might strike or you face other online security threats, but by exploring potential areas for concern and taking simple precautions you can avoid many of these situations before they become a reality. Don’t wait until you are affected – take a look at your security now.

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