In the digital age cyber security is paramount. But how can you make sure your business and accounts remain safe? Jonathan Booty, IT Systems Manager at accountants and tax advisors Bulley Davey, has some suggestions
It has been a busy few months in the world of cyber security. Earlier this year the NHS was crippled by a ransomware attack, which was followed by an attack on MPs who were unable to access their emails. Then in June a number of global companies across 60 countries were thrown into disarray by yet another severe attack. All these events raise questions about how safe we are from cyber attacks, particularly when it comes to the data kept by accountancy firms.
BE CYBER SECURE
The most commonly ignored protection is your firewall and broadband router. Your firewall is the connection between your building and the internet. If it’s old it will not be ready for the challenges we now face. If you do have an up-to-date firewall and router, it’s always worth checking that you’re using it to its fullest capacity. Lots of new routers and firewalls have security features included free of charge that can be accessed by using your admin log-in. Ensure you have up-to-date computer software. Windows 95 was built to manage the threats of 1995, while Windows XP could handle the challenges of the early 2000s. It was computers running Windows 95 that allowed the NHS to be so easily attacked this year, so while your computers may operate fine, they won’t be protected against the latest threats.
It is essential that all your data is backed up, secure and separated. Should your entire system go down, you need to be sure that your backups won’t go down with it. Test your backups regularly to make sure you can restore your data should the worst happen. Having a good backup means you can delete ransomware safe in the knowledge your data can be restored. Finally, educate your employees. What information do they give out and to whom? Adopt a sensible password policy and make sure they know what emails are safe to open. The most common signs of suspicious emails are someone pretending to be a client or a director, and trying to create a false sense of urgency in order to rush or frighten you into making a decision. Generally, if it can’t wait ten minutes then it is worth raising with someone.
Accountants handle a lot of confidential and important client data such as payroll and bank account details – the type of data that’s very valuable to a potential hacker! For this reason Bulley Davey is registered with regulatory bodies audit us before we are able to work with this sort of data. Further to this you shouldn’t feel shy about asking your potential accountant whether they carry the latest software and up-to-date systems. The best tip for staying safe? Remain vigilant and stay updated whenever you can. Whether you do that in-house or via an IT company, it will potentially save you countless hours should you ever find yourself the target of a virus or cyber attack.
STAY INTERNET SECURE AT WORK
1. Keep all your computers up to date with the latest software and legitimate antivirus software.
2. Never give out confidential information like account numbers or passwords over the phone or on email.
3. Create strong passwords across the company. Keep them private and change them regularly.
4. Treat all public Wi-Fi networks as a security risk. Never make financial or other sensitive transactions over public networks.
5. Establish a separate visitor Wi-Fi. You don’t want visitors to be able to access your main Wi-Fi network, as they will then have access to all of your systems.
For more information about Bulley Davey visit www.bulleydavey.co.uk or call 01733 569494.