1 in 5 companies can’t spot a scam: Essential tips for safeguarding your business online

Over half of all UK businesses have experienced a cyber attack in the last year, with this number increasing to 69% for larger companies.

In fact, 81% of cyber attacks and data breaches happen to small to medium sized businesses. With more and more crucial services relying on sharing information online, from payroll through to team meetings, how can businesses avoid falling into the trap that trips up almost a fifth (17%) of all UK companies? 

Protecting your income from procurement scams

£42.6 million was stolen from UK businesses in the first half of 2023 alone – all through verified transactions. Authorised push payments (APP) scams are on the rise – but would you or your employees know what to look for?

Here are some essential tips for businesses to boost safety as you access key services and share data online.

Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication

While it may seem annoying, it is crucial to choose a long and strong password that is unique to each service or profile you use.

The longer a password and the wider the range of characters you use, the harder it is to guess, while using different passwords means each account is protected in case one platform suffers a data breach.

To make things simpler, you can use a password manager such as LastPass, NordPass or even your Google account to help create and securely save complicated passwords and give you other useful security tips.

For an extra level of security, you should activate two-factor authentication which will use another approved device or platform to verify your login credentials each time.

Secure your device and surroundings

Ensure an airtight connection with secure business broadband. Make sure that you choose a reputable supplier with the bandwidth and the embedded protections in place to safeguard your essential business data. Implement encryption protocols and secure your Wi-Fi network to protect against unauthorised access.

However, securing your connection is only part of the process. If you step away from your desk, even if just to grab a coffee or head to the printer, make sure your devices are locked. After all, a secure password on an open, unguarded device is effectively useless.  

Be wary of suspicious emails and phishing scams

Phishing scams are rife, with three quarters of large UK companies falling victim. Essentially, this is when you receive a communication (most typically email but it can also be a text message, letter or phone call) which appears to come from a legitimate source. 

Phishing scams will always have a clear call to action – so if you receive an email that seems out of character and that asks you to take urgent action, be wary of the threat and ensure you follow this process: 

1) Check the sender and cross-reference with official sources. If the sender looks like a colleague or a contact but does not match your known contact details for them, contact the sender on the details you have previously used to get hold of them to confirm the veracity of the message. 

2) Never click any links or contact the sender on any information provided – always query with an official source.

3) Never disclose any financial or personal information; if unsure, forward the email to your IT services department.

Businesses should invest in regular training sessions and robust email filtering solutions to avoid this problem, which can significantly enhance your defence against cyber threats.

Install anti-virus and malware protection

Integrate advanced anti-virus and malware protection into your IT infrastructure. Robust and proactive monitoring and threat detection can ensure that your systems remain secure.

Only share essential information

Opt for secure cloud computing services using advanced sharing features to limit access and permissions. 

When screen sharing, follow best practices, making certain that you only share only the necessary information to reduce the risk of data exposure. For example, share an individual tab rather than your full screen, as you may unwittingly disclose personal information.

Back-up your data (but don’t keep data for longer than you need)

Embrace cloud computing services for secure data back-up. Implement automated backup solutions to protect your critical business data while adhering to data retention policies.

Don’t hang out to outdated records either. Typically, companies should keep records for no longer than seven years – but this can vary by industry. Be sure to check the guidance available for best practice on data retention in your business sector.

Invest in fully managed IT solutions from Datcom

In the fast-evolving digital landscape, online safety is non-negotiable for businesses. Datcom, stands as your online ally in fortifying your digital defences. 

For help incorporating these online safety tips and ensuring the security and longevity of your business operations, Datcom provides managed IT solutions, cloud computing, business broadband, remote IT, cyber security and outsourced IT. 
If you’ve outgrown your current IT support system, whatever your size or requirements, we bring you a tailored solution to optimise your workflow and minimise hassle.  Click here for more information on IT services from Datcom or reach out via 0333 000 3210 or hello@datcom.co.uk