The touch of a button. The revealing of a personal fact. The opening of the wrong page. The most innocuous action can open up your business to a whole assortment of threats online. And without adequate online business protection, the consequences can be significant. Breaches to your system, lost data, stolen identities and more can cost you money, downtime, a loss of consumer trust and in some cases, the downfall of a company.

Yep, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you have a robust network security policy in place and the personnel capable of carrying it out so that your business can continue to be safe from external attacks and financial catastrophe. With that in mind, here are 4 IDEAL tips for protecting your business online.

BEWARE OF MALWARE

Unprotected computer systems are an open door to malicious hackers and cyber crooks looking to crack your digital safe. It’s so vital, then, to be aware of the main threats your company might be exposed to online, in order to fully protect yourself against them. One of the ways they achieve this is by using malware; sneaky software designed to infiltrate a network and either control, steal or destroy data. It’s a pesky problem, but with the right protection you can mitigate the effect of such attacks on your network, or better still, completely keep them out.

A FIREWALL FIRST LINE OF DEFENCE

Firstly, make sure you have a robust firewall in place as a critical first line of defense. Not all firewalls are created equal and whilst there are free solutions with most routers, it’s worth doing your homework and getting a well-reviewed and easy-to-update system in place. This will make sure you stay protected as new malware is released.

Make sure all systems used by your business have this in place, from desktops and laptops to mobile devices, so that threats are stopped at the source regardless of where staff are based and how blase they might be about online security. Risky emails, unauthorized software downloads and disreputable websites can all harbor malware and virus dangers, so invest in a solid content filter. For example, the one developed by the Watchguard Online team is well equipped to keep those risks at bay.

CREATE A ROBUST PASSWORD POLICY

We’re all a little guilty of being loose with our passwords; we have so many to remember, and we’re forever being asked to change or secure them, and as such, it can become restrictive and difficult to commit them all to memory. But as the cyber criminals get more sophisticated and their password cracking software even more advanced, we need to be extra vigilant with our passwords.

It’s worth investing the time and effort in creating strong passwords. Generally, the longer the series of characters and the bigger the variety of characters (upper and lower case, numbers, punctuation etc.) the more effective a password will be. Don’t hold on to those passwords for too long though; make sure they’re all revisited and updated at regular intervals. Ensure staff aren’t writing them down, texting them or emailing them to themselves as this negates their efficacy and puts the business in jeopardy. The best thing you can do is to use password managers to make everybody’s lives a little easier.

STAY UP-TO-DATE

Probably the most important aspect of protecting your business online is making sure you remain current and up-to-date, both to threats and in the level of security you have online. Updating the operating systems of all devices (including mobile devices) as well as ensuring the latest security patches are applied to all software is critical to keeping your data protected. Don’t neglect your wetware (your brain), as you should also endeavor to stay as informed as possible about the latest potential threats; forewarned is forearmed.

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Rachel is the beauty and fashion director at IDEAL. She loves trying new products and is an avid fan of London's fashion, from the high end to the high street.