Top 10 Tips: How to avoid cyber attacks

David Tindall, managing director of Ilkley-based Talk Straight, gives advice on how SMEs can keep their data secure

Dave Tindall, managing director, Talk Straight

1. Educate - 50 per cent of the worst cyber security breaches last year were caused by inadvertent human error. Raise awareness of phishing and baiting scams.

2. Social media safety and security is paramount. Work-related information should not be accessible by social media.

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3. Train your staff. Currently around 63 per cent of SMEs nationwide provide ongoing security awareness training. The threat is constantly evolving.

4. Invest in the defence. The tools for tackling cyber-attacks are worth their weight in gold. The average price of a single breach for an SME is between £75,000 and £311,000.

5. Monitoring your web traffic is good practise for any SME regardless of cyber security. Quickly identifying a sudden or irregular level of activity can significantly soften the blow of a cyber-attack. There are a range of free and paid services that can help.

6. Stay updated. 59 per cent of businesses expect to suffer more security incidents within the next year. Being aware of the changing digital landscape can help keep you ahead of the game.

7. Should the worst case scenario happen, are you prepared? Offsite back-ups and mirrored servers are some of the most common practises that help prevent the irreversible loss of data.

8. Put your cyber security in the hands of a professional. Be it internal IT staff or a telecoms provider, their expertise will help quickly recognise potential dangers.

9. Assess the risks. Knowing where you’re most vulnerable, or what data/network would be most attractive to a potential cyber security attacker, is valuable information. You or your IT department/service are then able to prioritise security.

10. If you do suffer a damaging attack, report it. This is your best chance of recouping any losses and getting justice. The National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) and the Cyber Incident Response (CIR) scheme are your first ports of call.