Cyber Attacks - what you need to know!

Posted on 10 Jul 2017
Reader Question:

Dear Doctor Digital, I’ve heard about small businesses that are being compromised by hackers and cyber goons from the dark web! Is my business really at risk?

Doctor Digital Says:

The Internet in its broadest sense is the Swiss army knife of business tools. All business at the least use email, some of their functions tied up with the cloud, or Point of Sale (POS) and many have their whole business built around a digital landscape. As we all become more enmeshed with online as a place for our business operations, whether front or back of house, macro or micro it is important to be across how to not just do good business online, but how to do safe business on line.

Cyber attacks on small business fall under a few different categories. These tend to mimic the same strategies used with big business and government. You may wonder what your small or micro business could possibly have that would be of interest to cyber criminals hanging out in the dark web. The answer is the same thing that motivates all criminal activity – money. While you may be a little fish, when data for instance is stolen from a number of little businesses, that small fish adds up to a big school, and as mentioned previously, most small businesses don’t have the security in place big ones do, so to horribly mix a metaphor, its like stealing candy from a fish bowl.

Cyber attacks have happened to some of Australia’s biggest and most secure organisations. When those organisations don’t succeed at fending off attacks, it can seem overwhelming for a small business to know where to start and what to do. Learning about trends in cyber security can help you protect all the hard work and other resources required for running your business.  Here is your critical checklist of do’s and don’ts when it comes to keeping your small business safe from unwanted cyber attacks, hacks and human threats! 

  • No Unknown Downloads. Make a rule against downloading files from unknown senders.
  • Check Your Firewalls. Make sure everything is up-to-date on all machines.
  • Use current virus protection on all devices. Keep it current and updated whenever new patches become available.
  • Insist upon strong passwords!
  • Update your operating system regularly. This is especially important when new security patches come out. Many computers do this automatically, but make sure you have the auto update function turned on so you don’t miss out.
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN). These connect you to the web with an encrypted connection so data being shared online can’t be seen by third parties. VPN providers offer secure data connections between remote workers and your network too, which can be especially helpful if you send workers into the field (for deliveries or repairs, for example).
  • Make sure mobile devices used for work are secure. Don’t store important passwords on any mobile device. Learn how to use remote wipe capability on your phones and tablets.
  • Disaster Recovery plan. Not having one is a disaster. By thinking through the critical elements of your business that could be compromised, and what the damage may be, you can apply the fixes and antidotes before it happens – and have a plan of attack when it does.
  • People are flawed. Yes, even you. So don’t assume everyone is doing the right thing, and be actively alert and across your staff, their actions and all elements of your business and give them adequate security training.
  • Outsource overwhelm. All too hard? There are plenty of companies and consultants who will happily come in, audit your business and provide solutions. Whether it is your time and money or their time and your money, this is a non negotiable expense that will save you far more than it will cost in the long run.


To find out more about how you can keep your small business on top of Internet security, read our Internet Security for Small Business Factsheet here.