Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Three top tips to improve IT security

At R&A, we understand that you are busy with a never-ending list of problems and issues to deal with on a daily basis.

We’re also positive that you don’t want to lie awake at night, worried about your IT security and whether your systems may be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Mythical Targets

The first myth we need to kick into touch, is that old chestnut about hackers ignoring smaller companies because the data isn’t as valuable as the data in a big global company.

“Surely hackers have bigger fish to fry than me?”, is something we hear all the time.

This simply isn’t true, because ALL data is invaluable to the success of a business, no matter what size the company is.

Just imagine if you came into the office one morning and couldn’t access the information you need for a client. Then a huge warning appears, telling you that you are locked out of your system until you pay a ransom.

What would you do?
How would your business function without access to this data?

If you are unfortunate enough to become the victim of a ransomware attack or someone clicks on to a suspicious link in a phishing email, you will need to contiue to have access to the systems and data you need to run your business.

As a business owner, you need to know where all your data is saved and that it is protected by your security umbrella. So, our first tip to improve IT security is:

Top tip #1 Backup, backup BACKUP!

You should have a backup in place that is separate from your usual physical data storage locations.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the Office 365 OneDrive, Sharepoint or Dropbox is a backup just because it stores some data in the cloud. It isn’t.

The first thing to determine is what data you need to back up, so think about all the information you need access to for successfully running your business every day.

The second decision is about when you run the backup, daily, weekly, more or less frequently?

Once you have a backup system in place, check it regularly by testing a restore, to make sure it is running when it should and backing up the right data.

Don’t leave anything to chance!

The final thing you need is to make sure the backup details are securely documented as part of your disaster recovery plan, along with who has full access to your systems.

This should then be communicated to the right people in your organisation and updated/amended when people start or leave, as necessary.

We’re confident that you really don’t want the cleaner walking off with an unsecure backup of all your business critial data (scarily, we have seen things just like this!!).

It may surprise you to learn that the biggest single cause of security issues is user error. This is often linked to clicking on links within emails, so our second tip to improve IT security is to:

Top tip #2 Train your staff!

Photo by Roland Lösslein
Ok – wrong type of ‘Train’ but I liked the image!

You can have the best IT security in the world, but if someone clicks on to the wrong link in an email, hackers can just walk right in and take whatever information they want!

In order to protect your data from incidents like these, you need an IT security policy as part of the induction process for all staff. This should be updated to reflect data protection updates, compliance changes and any new emerging threats. Topics to cover in your staff training are:

  • Password protocol and password management – for instance, using random characters, not reusing passwords, not writing them down on a Post-It stuck on the monitor.
  • Security of mobile devices such as biometrics, multi-factor authentication
  • Physical security of data such as a clean desk policy, logging off unattended devices
  • Be careful what you click! Suspicious emails are all too convincing these days, so make sure you know what to check and what not to click.
  • Who suspicious emails should be reported to
  • Social media/internet use (Gary Linekar!)
  • Working from home or remotely
  • How to safely use public Wi-Fi

And finally, our third top tip to improve IT security is, (ta-dah!)

Top tip #3 Install security software!

Yeah – we know! But you’d be surprised just how often we find that people don’t.

Your security software should monitor viruses, malware, spam, have a system for quarantining these nasties and activate alerts when something suspicious turns up in your system.

It should also automatically update, so you are protected against new threats.

In addition to effective anti-virus software, make sure that you run automatic updates for operating systems and software programmes because these will include security patches.

Updates are released regularly to:

  • Fix performance bugs for running the programme or system
  • Address security vulnerabilities

Do be careful with updated though, sometimes they can cause all sorts of weird problems.

Security like Fort Knox?

It is important to remember that no IT is ever 100% safe, and while the good guys are updating and patching to protect against threats, new threats are emerging all the time.

It’s an ‘Arms race’

Although you can’t achieve 100% protection, what you can do is to make things as difficult as possible for those with ulterior motives and prepare for that fateful day when it all goes wrong by following our top three tips.

A quick example

A growing HR client with personal/confidential data was extremely worried about meeting GDPR requirements and the risks in keeping all client data as secure as possible. 

R&A Ltd completed a data review then installed security software on all devices, and tweaked the backup systems.

This HR business can now rest easy with the right data protection measures in place. The reputation of the business is excellent, clients are reassured on the data security measures in place.

This HR business now has solid data security foundations in place to grow with confidence and peace of mind.

Do you have worries when it comes to IT security?

Contact us today for a review to make sure your business is protected against malicious software or external threats to your IT.

Alternatively, book our free IT MOT. Yes, that’s right, it’s free, so what have you got to lose?

At R&A, we understand that you are busy with a never-ending list of problems and issues to deal with. So here's a quick 3 Top Tips to help.

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