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10 simple steps for securing business data

As businesses increasingly rely on the internet to reach a wider market, it’s vital that irreplaceable virtual assets – the data and information being stored on their computers and fileservers – are protected and kept secure. Here’s how.

National Cyber Security Awareness Week was celebrated last week through various events held around the country, and the organisers have used the event to remind businesses about the importance of staying safe online.

In a 2011 survey of almost 600 US companies, 90 percent of respondents said their computers and networks had been hacked at least once in the past 12 months. The survey, conducted by Ponemon Research, also found that up to 60 percent of respondents had been hacked twice or more.

Despite these alarming statistics, there are some simple ways to keep your business and personal data safe online, even without a dedicated IT manager.

Here are ten tips for better online security:

  1. Install and update your security software, and set it to scan regularly to catch any bugs or viruses that may be lurking.
  2. Turn on automatic updates on all your software, particularly your operating system and applications. These updates often include stronger inbuilt security settings.
  3. Use strong passwords and different passwords for different uses.
  4. Stop and think before you click on links and attachments. If you’re unsure of any, scan them with your security software before opening.
  5. Take care when transacting online – research the supplier and use a safe payment method.
  6. Only download “apps” from reputable publishers and read all permission requests.
  7. Regularly check your privacy settings on social networking sites.
  8. Stop and think before you post any photos or financial information online.
  9. Talk with your child about staying safe online, including on their smartphone or mobile device.
  10. Report or talk to someone if you feel uncomfortable or threatened online – download the Government’s Cybersafety Help Button.