Cyber crime is a big issue in the world today as the dependence on computers and technology grows, but how to you know if your business is at risk? How can you tell if you are a prospective victim? It is important that you recognise the threat to companies as well as to individuals, and understanding the target is the first step. A common misconception that people arrive at through logic would usually be that large companies or important individuals with a lot of money and financial information would be the primary targets. This is false.

The truth of the matter is that hackers and other cyber criminals are smarter than that; large companies have a bigger budget for security and large teams of people trained to prevent attacks. It would be foolish and difficult to steal money or information from one of these, however – a small company outside the computing sector with little to no budget for security and no knowledge of protection are the perfect victims. They might not have as much to take, but it’s easier to get to.

There are a number of things that any organisation can do to ensure that they remain protected against the criminals on the internet, and the first would seem to be the most obvious. Ensure that your business has a budget for security; ensure that there are people in your business who can recognise an attack and make sure you take advice from a security firm concerning how to protect your business, following the steps below can also help.

Passwords – it is of course a common problem that people want their passwords to be easy to remember, but they usually miss out on the security in order to ensure that they won’t forget their passwords; this leaves you vulnerable to attack. Most important is that your password contains letters and numbers as well as symbols, having upper and lower case letters can also be helpful. However, they don’t have to be hard to remember, use a sentence that you are likely to remember, ‘My pet is Spot born in 1997’, this can be used to create the password MpiSbi1997, adding any symbol at the beginning or the end can further increase your security. It is always important that you don’t share your password with anyone and don’t write it down where it can be seen by others.

Protect your Files– If you have an old computer lying around this can be perfect for storing files such as spreadsheets full of passwords, particularly if the computer is not connected to the internet. If you can’t get an old computer to store the files on use any free file encryption software.

Back up – If anything ever happens to your computer you want to be sure you aren’t losing all of your work or passwords, so many people create a back up. Ensure that the backup data is encrypted and keep it in a safe place, somewhere away from your office like at home or with a friend is always a good option.

Browsing the Net – Avoid websites such as adult sites and hacker sites, anything that can’t be trusted can leave you vulnerable to try to remain on sites that you know and trust. This is pretty basic and is something that everyone in the business should be doing. Use a pop-up blocker to ensure the safety of your software and users, they work much like a dangerous website without you even needing to go to that site, so blocking them straight away is the easiest way to avoid the danger and blockers are usually easy and free to download and install.

Monitoring – Check your financial information regularly, make sure you know where money is going and why, you can contact your bank for advice on keeping your details safe and always contact your bank if you think your information has been stolen.