Small businesses are seen as easy prey for hackers, but you can bolster your defences by turning to the cloud.
The biggest risk for many small businesses lies in the traditional server. For businesses that rely on sharing essential documents via servers, when they crash, it’s panic stations.
Then there are the sole traders, who store all their data on a single computer, and risk losing everything when there’s a theft or technical crash.
Add to that mix ransomware, phishing and hacking – there’s no shortage of security threats when it comes to your precious business data.
A major security breach or technical disaster can bring your business to its knees, so you need solid lines of defence combined with a disaster recovery plan to help you get back on your feet quickly.
So, what can you be doing to protect your business from a security breach?
Layers of defence
“I normally speak about security being like an onion,” says Mike Fernando – general manager of Perth-based IT support provider TechBrain.
“Security cannot be addressed by just one product or policy, it requires multiple layers to provide the best possible chance of a security threat being mitigated.”
The cloud removes many of these risks. In fact, your cloud vendor is investing in enterprise-grade secure storage for you, meaning you’re not only safeguarding your data, but you’re potentially saving in security investments.
The cloud can also underpin a unified approach to business communications, ensuring that interactions with the outside world are streamlined and safeguarded.
When it comes to protecting your email data, Fernando suggests extra lines of defence outside antivirus software and spam filtering – this can include Advanced Threat Protection, such as content filtering, scanning for phishing attempts and catching malicious web links within messages.
The benefits of the cloud
Ensuring your staff are working within the same cloud ecosystem doesn’t just ensure they’ll all be on the same page. It also reduces your exposure to security vulnerabilities, such as losing your data.
For Leonie Van Rooyen, owner of Zuri Boutique Hair & Beauty in St Kilda, one such vulnerability hit her business hard earlier this year when her salon was broken into, and the thieves stole her computer and hard drive.
“I lost all client entries, the client history over the past six years, all my financials … the only thing I didn’t lose because of online bookings were names and numbers.”
“If I were on the cloud earlier this wouldn’t have happened,” she admits.
It was a difficult lesson for Van Rooyen, but one which resulted in her expediting her existing plan to move all her systems onto the cloud to avoid any further security breaches in the future.
Cloud platforms automatically back up data, meaning a power surge isn’t going to mean losing all your work. In addition, collaboration tools mean document version control is no longer an issue – with people both within and outside of the business able to work on the same live documents in real time – and sensitive data no longer needs to be shared between systems that can’t talk to each other.
Outside of security, the cloud also offers businesses with practical systems that can improve their productivity, particularly in instances of staff turnover.
By having everyone within your business operate in the same cloud platform you are ensuring that your data is protected when people leave your organisation. Business owners – or the owner of IT operations – can deactivate accounts to ensure that no sensitive information is taken from an organisation. Conversely, this can also make onboarding a lot simpler – with all documentation and data readily accessible to new hires.
Keep your guard up
While ransomware – such as the 2017 Wannacry attack – makes headlines, Fernando says phishing scams are becoming more prevalent, along with attempts to impersonate senior staff in order to dupe subordinates.
“Examples include bogus email directives, supposedly coming from the boss, requesting that accounts payable staff transfer funds to offshore accounts,” he says.
“These types of issues are best addressed by educating staff to spot fakes, as emails typically display the correct name but are often sent from an outside email address.”
Safe and sound
The cloud has empowered Perth-based marketing agency Brand One to remain agile as the business grows, all the while keeping a focus on data protection, says creative director Scott Campbell.
“We wouldn’t be as effective or responsive using a traditional software model,” he says.
Brand One’s time-critical business requirements such as job tracking, billing and documentation are all hosted in the cloud. These in turn are fully integrated with a cloud-based accounting solution, while email and data backups are also hosted in the cloud.
“There are plenty of threats out there but working in the cloud ensures that our data is safe and secure,” Campbell says.
“We can control the flow of information, to reduce risks to the business, and quickly get back on our feet should disaster strike.”
Five tools that can help protect your business from a security breach
- Cloud office suite – This handy tool ensures you can access your documents securely in the cloud
- Cloud collaboration – Collaboration tools, like Microsoft Teams, unifies email, workplace chat, file sharing and online meeting tools, creating platforms for secure communications
- Cloud backups – Backing up your data to the cloud ensures you have data offsite in case a disaster strikes
- Anti-virus and spam filtering – These filters will help block malicious applications and questionable emails
- Advanced Threat Protection – Checks for phishing attacks and catches malicious links
For small businesses, technology can make the difference in driving your company ahead, setting you apart from your competition. But the challenge is ‘how do you get there’? Microsoft can help make the benefits of modern technology a reality for your business