by David Midgley, Head of Operations at Total Processing
With more and more businesses embracing the efficiency and accessibility of on-the-go technology and online transactions now being processed quicker than ever, it’s no surprise that these new technologies are also attracting potential security threats. These security threats can often be blown out of proportion though, whether it’s via word of mouth, social media or marketing stunts, and which can add unnecessary concern for both businesses and customers.
It’s crucial for businesses of all sizes (especially if you’re a new business) to be aware of the main cyber security myths but to also ensure a bit of light reading doesn’t turn into sleepless nights. It’s always best to be overprotective than under protective to ensure the success of your business and to put both yours and your customer’s mind at ease, which is why you should be mindful of the most common myths surrounding cyber security for your business.
So what exactly are the most common myths regarding cyber security for businesses? Here the six most common myths – is your business falling for any of these cyber security myths?
Myth 1: It’s only big and well-established businesses that get attacked.
Truth: Small and medium sized businesses are at just as much risk as well-established businesses. Yes, they might have a higher volume of data to protect and more valuable assets, however hackers see small and medium sized businesses as an opportunity. This is due to smaller businesses doing less to protect their security simply because they think their business isn’t a likely target.
You should always assume the worst is going to happen and then work back from there, as even if your business just caters for twenty customers, those customers’ are putting their trust in your business to keep their details protected.
Tip: If you have anything that your users might want private, you almost always want to use HTTPS for your entire website to avoid any cyber attacks.
Myth 2: You’ll know straight away if your business has been attacked.
Truth: Although some cyber attacks can be as obvious as unwanted pop-ups and locking down your computer immediately, some hackers prefer to go unnoticed as it can often be more beneficial. The longer an attack stays on the device undetected, the more information can be gained and therefore more damage caused to the business or individual. Hackers can be really sneaky and when they’re in, they can slowly chip away at your protection and valuable data.
This doesn’t need to be a concern if you’re always aware of your device though and as soon as you spot anything slightly suspicious, check it out rather than delaying it.
Tip: If you need to allow your users to upload files and images to your website, be sure to treat every file with suspicion.
Myth 3: Software is the key to solving your security issues.
Truth: Anti-virus software is definitely a good start when it comes to protecting your business online; however software alone is not going to put a stop to cyber crime completely and no single security programme is bullet-proof. With technology constantly evolving, unfortunately so does cyber crime so it’s vital in keeping up to date with the latest defences against security attacks and always be in the know with aspects such as ad blockers, firewall and anti-spyware.
Tip: Use a comprehensive security solution for your devices rather than relying on the free software that often comes with your system.
Myth 4: Viruses and malicious software only affect computers and laptops.
Truth: The Smartphone is now a go-to device for everything from making phone calls, shopping, sending emails and keeping all your social media updated, with computers and laptops becoming less and less popular as a daily device.
With more technology and software updates going into each mobile phone and tablet, it’s no wonder that the security risks now come with them too and it’s no longer just affecting computers and laptops. Arguably more at risk than your desktop, people are generally less likely to sign out of different apps on their phone and store personal data where they might not realise.
Tip: Ensure that your customer uses a complex password for their account. The most secure passwords are 8+ characters long, with a mix of lower and upper case letters, numbers and symbols.
Myth 5: If your business has already been attacked then you won’t get targeted again.
Truth: If your business has been unlucky enough to have previously suffered a cyber attack, make no mistake in thinking that it’s a onetime deal. Particularly evident with larger companies, it’s quite a common occurrence that hackers will try numerous attempts, especially once they know that they’ve been able to get through your system before. When a weak point has been discovered previously, ensure that you look into that particular weakness and take the correct safety measures to ensure it doesn’t happen a next time.
Tip: If your business has previously suffered from a cyber attack, learn where your weaknesses lie to prevent any further attacks.
Myth 6: It’s better to use Apple devices because they don’t get any security viruses.
Truth: With our daily devices constantly evolving with the latest technology, it’s no surprise that Apple computers and iPhones are now becoming more susceptible to security attacks and it’s no longer just PCs that are a prime target. Whichever operating system you prefer (whether it’s Apple or otherwise) for all your devices; your smartphone, tablet, laptop and desktop, you still need to implement the correct security measures and be aware of any potential threats.
Tip: Never click on links or attachments from people you don’t recognise. If you have to, run them through email scanning software beforehand.
David Midgley is Head of Operations at Total Processing. Prior to this, he spent nine years working for HSBC from 2004 and also spent two and a half years at Axcess Merchant Services before taking up his current role at Total Processing in February 2016.