An introductory guide to cyber security

Think you’re immune from a cyber attack because you’re not a big organisation like Sony, PayPal, Church of Scientology, Target and K-Mart? Think again. Statistics show that criminals are now actively targeting smaller businesses because they believe their systems are vulnerable.

The Australian Government has released a Small Business Guide to help you put in place some basic online security measures. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Passwords. All staff should use strong passwords, with a mixture of numbers, letters, special characters, upper and lowercase. Try replacing some letters with characters and numbers. Enforce strong passwords and regular password changes for everyone.
  2. Back ups. Take your backup offsite or store it securely, like you would important paper documents. Test your backup system regularly to ensure that it restores all information correctly.
  3. Confidentiality. Train your staff on information security, create business policies/guidelines setting out your expectations, keep sensitive information on computers outside your control, give employees individual logins and passwords (not shared credentials) and consider using a password safe to store an encrypted copy of your passwords.
  4. Be Alert. Stay up-to-date with the latest scams, spam and internet threats. Consider subscribing to the free services ‘Stay Smart Online Alert Service’ and ‘Scamwatch’.
  5. Lock down your devices. Install good antivirus software on all of your devices and regularly update it. Set your systems to automatically update software. When browsing, check that websites have a padlock symbol in the browser bar before entering any information — this symbol indicates that your information is kept private as it’s transmitted to and from the site.
  6. Act quickly. If your computer network is comprised seek immediate technical advice to address the issue, consider if you’ve breached any of your obligations under the Privacy Act and maybe log the incident on the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s website. If you believe a crime has been committed, also call your local police.