Cybercrime is on the rise. Especially for small businesses. Often because they lack IT infrastructure making them a soft target for hackers and scammers. In fact, Small Business Computing reports that 58% of all data breaches last year occurred in small businesses. In the past 12 months, 54% of these small businesses hit, involved a breach of employee and/or customer information. It is with this in mind that business owners need to take their security very seriously. Fortunately, Government is behind small business cybersecurity. We have rounded up the details of the grant, as well as some key tips to keep your business safe from the great wide web.

The Small Business Cyber Security Grant, Australia

At a glance, the government-backed grant entitles businesses with 19 or fewer employees, to a grant of up to $2,100. The grant is allocated to a complete security health check in order to red-light which area of your business’ cyber footprint is unsecured, to locate risk and advise on how to both remedy and protect your business.

Who can apply?

There are certain criteria for applicants: Most notably, your business must have a certified health check undertaken by a CREST provider. Your business needs an Australian Business Number (ABN). It must be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST). The business must employ 19 or fewer people. It should also be a sole trader, entity incorporated or a partnership. Deadline to apply is 30 June 2020 and is well worth the effort to apply. So, visit their website for more details.

In the meantime what can I do to increase my small business cyber security?

First, understand what the threat looks like. The most common risk to small business cyber security involves phishing or social engineering. This often involves “pretexting” where attackers send emails appearing to be from an executive within the company. It mostly targets HR or Finance departments in an attempt to get financial or employee information. According to Symantec’s 2018 Internet Security Threat Report, each user at a small business receives an average of nine malicious e-mails per month.

The other common attack is on the web itself. As employees surf the web, embedded malware on compromised sites embed themselves on the user’s computer. Once the hacker gains access, they can easily access personal data and other private company documents. This information is then used against the company for ransom or with other malicious intent.

These tips can vastly improve your small business cybersecurity:

Improve password protection:

In this day and age, it’s pretty much a given that you need to protect your devices with passwords. And then, it’s even more essential that you update them regularly. Ensure there are policies in place to insist this is carried out among staff. Consider using a password manager and two-factor authentication to access your accounts.

Limit access:

Good cyber security for small business is all about layers. Create tiered access for staff. Ensure that only those who need to access certain information do so. Also, be sure to limit employee access to the web.

Monitor personal devices:

As a small business, to save on expenses, it is likely that you might allow staff to use their personal devices for work purposes. In these cases, you need to create policies that allow your network administrator to install monitoring software, push automatic security updates, and call for regular password changes.

Educate your employees:

It stands to reason that employees are the weakest link in the cybercrime chain. So it will come down to training staff on what they can and can’t do. Put guidelines and penalties in place to ensure rules are followed.

Plan for attack:

Even if you do everything right, these things happen. So work with an IT specialist to come up with a backup plan in the event of the worst happening.

Hack yourself before you back yourself:

As crazy as it seems, arranging someone to hack your own system will give you a very clear sense of where your vulnerabilities lie. You can hire an ethical hacker on Fiverr for as little as $5 USD.

Up to a point your cyber security rests in your hands. To layer your security, follow these key tips and remain on top of cyber trends at all times. In this world, vigilance pays off and hackers will go wherever it’s easiest. That needn’t be you.

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