Protecting your business from cyber attacks: what you need to know

The latest wave of cyber attacks have wreaked havoc across the globe in past few months. WannaCry malicious software hit Britain’s National Health Service, as well as large corporations in Spain, Russia, the Ukraine, and Taiwan. Closer to home, a new strain of ransomware called Petya emerged, affecting a range of Australian businesses including courier companies, legal firms, and Cadbury.

Examples like this show how exposed your business can be to these types of malicious programs. So, what can you do to protect your workspace from future ransomware attacks?

Update your equipment

If you’ve got older equipment that is still running Windows XP, now might be the time to upgrade. Microsoft is no longer providing regular updates to Windows XP – though an emergency patch to protect you from WannaCry ransomware is available. However, there may be other unpatched programs on your network that could leave you vulnerable to attack. The only way to address these is to upgrade your operating systems, which may require buying new computers.


Patch all your devices

If you leave your computers unpatched, and without proper internet security software, you can be infected by ransomware. Imagine all your accounts, customer data and important documents locked up and gone forever. If you’ve recently upgraded your computers, they will come with the latest software, but that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Microsoft is constantly working on patches to head-off new threats as they’re discovered, so it’s essential that you download security updates or patches as they become available. 

And even though the latest malware was designed to affect Windows machines, businesses running Mac or Linux also need to be wary. Regardless of the devices you use in your business, you should regularly update your software and install the latest security enhancements.

Protect your small business from cyber attack

Install antivirus software

In addition to keeping Windows up-to-date with the latest security enhancements, antivirus software can prevent malware from infecting your workplace. For small and medium-sized offices, there are software solutions that offer multi-device protection. One purchase can sometimes cover up to five or more devices.

Additionally, many of these programs will cover PCs as well as tablets and phones. Phone internet security software can help stop you falling victim to cybercrime, such as identity fraud, which can often lead to a ransomware attack.


Back up regularly

It’s recommended that all businesses have two backups of critical data – one on-site, the other off-site.

For your on-site backup, consider a large format hard drive which can be used weekly (or daily depending on your preference) to copy important business data. Keep this drive disconnected from the computer when it’s not backing up data, as many of these viruses will also infect and encrypt the drives attached to the computer.

When it comes to off-site backups, a cloud service like Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive or Dropbox is a great place to store files, making them accessible at any time and ensuring recovery from an attack can be immediate.


What to do if you’re affected?

If you think you’ve been affected by ransomware, disconnect your PC from any networks it is connected to and turn it off. Get in touch with a local IT support company, or your IT service provider, who'll be able to assess the issue and get your office working again.

And whatever you do, do not pay the ransom – it won’t result in your files coming back, and it could make you potential target again in the future.