How to help protect your small business against cyber security threats

We live in an age where so much of our daily lives exist online, which can also leave you vulnerable to damaging cyber-attacks. While you might think, “I’m just a small business in Australia, it’ll never happen to me”, you can’t take the threat seriously enough.

GoDaddy research found that six per cent of small businesses respondents reporting having been impacted by a cyber-attack. Though they might not happen often, when they do the ramifications can be devastating. Some of the impacts could include a loss of access to accounts and customer data, high costs to fix the problem and, in extreme cases, even the temporary closure of businesses.

Here are a few things your small business needs to know about helping to protect your online presence.

Why small businesses?

According to research, 58 per cent of small businesses are most vulnerable to malware attacks. Worryingly, 60 per cent of hacked small business go out of business within six months. Despite the risks, only 30 per cent of businesses regularly check for vulnerabilities, and 40 per cent rarely do. Small businesses, unfortunately, can be among the most vulnerable to attacks simply because they don’t usually have the cyber security acumen, nor resources or time to devote to website security compared to many large corporations.

It’s worth knowing that attacks aren’t necessarily targeted at specific websites. In most hacking attempts, attackers aren’t actively seeking out any website in particular, which is why any site – even the smallest – can be attacked. Hackers use bots to search for vulnerabilities, and once one is found, the hackers jump in to do some damage.

Understand your vulnerabilities…

That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do in an effort to try to minimise the risk for your small business though. Understanding how your website is vulnerable and identifying the areas of your online presence that need the most attention – and taking steps to fix them – could help protect you against potential attacks. One of the best ways to identify your weaknesses is with a vulnerability scanner – a tool that automatically scans your website for the types of holes and weak spots hackers use to break in. This shouldn’t be a one-off exercise, though; make vulnerability scans a regular part of your online activity.

…then act

When you know where you are vulnerable, you can begin to secure your website. One of the easiest and most effective ways is to check your website’s security with an SSL checker to determine if it’s time to get your website SSL certified, which uses a secure connection to safely transfer sensitive data. The valuable information on your site is scrambled so it can’t be intercepted or deciphered by hackers. Not only that, but customers can see which websites are protected by an SSL certificate on their browser bar, which could encourage them to use your business when they see you’re taking actions to help protect their data shared with your website.

Other ways you can further safeguard your website are by using secure, unique passwords, performing routine security checks and updating your software as soon as a newer version is available. In addition, with small businesses particularly at risk of malware attacks, you could run periodic malware cleanups. GoDaddy Website Protection is an active 24/7 website monitoring service that can identify potential security threats such as malware and ransomware and can take action against it quickly.

While it is difficult to entirely safeguard your small business against cyber security threats, you can be vigilant about continually reviewing your security protections and taking the necessary steps to help protect your online presence.

Jill Schoolenberg, Regional President for Canada, Australia and Latin America, GoDaddy

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