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Success Tax Professionals shares tips to boost cyber security for small businesses

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

✦ It's not just the big corporations that are the targets of cyber attacks. Small businesses also need to step up and learn to defend themselves effectively.


We live in an interdependent ecosystem of small, medium, large businesses. Protecting our cyberspace is not just about keeping our individual business safe. If your business gets cyber attacked, hackers may use your network as a way in to get to the networks of other companies who are connected to you.



What are some things you can do as a small business to keep your cyber space nice and clean?


1. INSTALL ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE

Choose one that can protect all your devices from viruses, spyware, ransomware and phishing scams. It should also help clean your devices and remember to keep this software updated regularly. If we can't be two steps ahead of hackers, at least it pays to be on par with them. Updates ensure that you are safe from the latest threats.


2. STAY UPDATED

All the software you use across all devices should be updated. Make sure you choose automatic updates so you don't forget.


3. BACK UP IMPORTANT FILES

Never say, 'oh well, I'll back everything up tomorrow'. Seriously, do it now, do it regularly and heck, just set it to automatic as well! If you get cyber attacked, your information could be lost completely. Imagine a hacker kidnapping your data and demanding a ransom for you to access them again. It's not going to happen. You'll never see your data ever again. Back them up. To the cloud or to an external storage. But do it.


4. LIMIT ACCESS

Not everyone from the newest intern to the ex-CEO needs access to everything in your business. Restrict access especially to critical data to a minimum. Make it clear and transparent who has access so everyone is accountable. This can help minimise data breach.


5. MAKE SURE YOUR PASSWORD IS NOT 1234

Use a strong password or even a passphrase on all devices that contain sensitive data. We're talking about at least 15 characters in length containing a mix of upper and lower-case letters with numbers and symbols. And when you do come up with a really powerful password, make sure you change it at intervals to be doubly safe. It's also advisable to enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) if available on all your devices and apps.


6. DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS

This old-school advice holds true even in cyber space. Don't click on random links or download strange attachments. Don't install anything you are not sure of or know. Don't give strangers your confidential information. No proper organisation will ever ask you for your passwords.



Cyber attacks are every bit as aggressive and traumatic and your brain would in fact register this experience as if your body has been physically attacked. Panic, frustration, regret, paranoia are consequences of a cyber security breach, and inevitably, we end up asking why me, what did I do wrong, why was I so... you get the idea.


So it really is something worth investing time, money and effort in. Sit down with your team and do a risk assessment and if need be, consult a professional about how to best go about ensuring cyber security for your business.




AUSTRALIAN CYBER SECURITY CENTRE

Did you know that Australia has a cyber security centre? The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) works closely with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) and the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) to provide information to the public about boosting cyber security measures.


They have comprehensive resources to help small businesses build up their cyber security resilience. Check out the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Small Business Cyber Security Guide for more cyber security tips.

The ATO also has a number you can call if you suspect your cyber security has been compromised - contact 1800 467 033 between 8.00am and 6.00pm Monday to Friday. The ATO will investigate and can place extra protection on your ATO account. Learn more from ATO here about protecting yourself.


Cyberspace criminals are smart and they may impersonate organisations or entities so you need to always have a cool head. Use this checklist from the ATO to verify if it's really them:

  • Look for the official ATO logo and organisational name next to the message. Beware of slight variations on the name, like ‘Australia’ rather than ‘Australian’ Taxation Office.

  • Check the date the messenger joined or opened their account – if it was 2 weeks ago, it’s not the ATO.

  • Check that any email addresses they provide you end with ‘.gov.au

  • Check for typos in the message.

  • Check the number of followers they have.

So you see, there is really quite a lot we can do, and there is support out there as well to help small businesses manage their cyber security. You are not alone!


Why not make that a New Year's Resolution for 2023, to beef up your cyber security and have peace of mind so you can fully focus on more exciting projects in your business?






Contact John Clarke, Success Tax Professionals

a/ 5/124 Horton Street, Port Macquarie, NSW 2444, Australia

t/ 0481 039 851


 

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