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The Matthew White column

Is your backup system working?

There are a range of threats facing small businesses now and the best way for businesses to protect against these threats is to have a comprehensive set of security tools in place: One of these is a good backup system.

Backup systems essentially take a snapshot or picture of the state of your data. If your systems are damaged, some of your data is accidentally deleted or you are a victim of a malware attack, your saved backup can minimise the damage and quickly get things back to normality.

Making cloud storage part of your backup strategy is about keeping your data safe and secure, while also being cost-effective and flexible.

  • Backups can be managed remotely.
  • Better protection – your data is isolated from local device failure, malware attacks and natural disasters.
  • Less downtime – Your data can be restored quickly from anywhere and at any time.

What are some common cyber security threats for small businesses?

cyber-attack is any type of offensive action that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, computer networks or personal computer devices, using various methods to steal, alter or destroy data or information systems.

  • Email and phishing scams use email and text messages to catch victims. These attacks send content that appears to be from trusted sources with the goal of gaining personal information or influencing users to do something. It could involve an attachment to an email that loads malware onto your computer. It could also be a link to an illegitimate website that can trick you into downloading malware or handing over your personal information. Spear phishing is a very targeted type of phishing activity. Attackers take the time to conduct research into their targets and create messages that are personal and relevant. Because of this, spear phishing can be extremely hard to identify and even harder to defend against.
  • Passwords. Passwords are the most used mechanism to authenticate users to an information system and so obtaining passwords is a common and effective attack approach. Cyber criminals can access unprotected databases, look at servers to find unencrypted passwords, and use email, text messages or social engineering.
  • Server attacks. DOS (Denial of service) overwhelms a system’s resources so that it cannot respond to service requests. SQL attacks target websites and servers, reading and modifying sensitive data in databases. Drive-by attacks target websites and servers by planting malicious code that will infect a visitor’s system, capturing and transmitting their sensitive data.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM). A MitM attack occurs when a hacker inserts itself between the communications of a client and a server.
  • Social engineering attacks involve human interactions to acquire sensitive information. It uses psychological manipulation to trick users into making security mistakes or giving away sensitive information. This can include attacks like phishing but also physical activities. For example, an attacker rings the office impersonating a co-worker, bank or another person who has “the-right-to-know” authority. They ask questions to gather important information such as employee names, phone numbers, company bank details, security information etc.

What is Ransomware and how can you protect against it?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that cyber criminals use to block you from accessing your own data. Often delivered via phishing scams and server attacks, the software encrypts the files on your system and adds extensions to prevent some programs from functioning. The criminals typically demand a ransom be paid, within a time limit, to unlock these files and restore affected IT systems, however, there is no guarantee that paying the ransom will get your files unlocked either.

These types of cyber security threats can ruin a business: being locked out of your own files and systems for just a day will impact revenue and it can often take many weeks to resolve problems. The damage can also impact your suppliers, customers and staff, as their data and systems can be subsequently compromised.

Having adequate cyber security measures in place to mitigate the threat of cyber-attacks is imperative.

Prevention is always better than a cure!

However, if the worst should happen, an offsite, cloud-based backup can get your systems up and running in a matter of hours.