Business IQ

The fundamentals of online security planning

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

The Smarter Team is made up of business and technology journalists who write to offer insights to small and medium businesses about technology, business know-how and emerging trends.

Protecting your business online requires more than set-and-forget antivirus software. In an increasingly digital world, planning and strategy are key for keeping your business safe from cyber threats.

Man using tablet in stockroom

Research by the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) found that 62% of Australian SMBs had experienced a cyber security incident, and that a cyber crime is reported in Australia every ten minutes. It’s a common myth that only big businesses need to worry about serious cyber risks, when really, any business can be a target no matter how big or small. Let’s look at how your business can plan for a cyber-secure future.

Identify your vulnerabilities

In today’s connected industries, where any device can be a security risk, cyber security needs to be a priority for every person in a business. As more and more devices connect to The Internet of Things (IoT), the risk of cyber threats grow for the average business and its people. In the Telstra Business Intelligence report on Managing Risks Online, Cyber Security Executive Matthew O’Brien believes most breaches involve some kind of human error. “When it comes to employees, your cyber security controls are only as good as your weakest link,” he says.

Business owners and managers are responsible for keeping up with the changing online security landscape – but keeping your team trained in managing risks online is just as important. Ensuring all staff are practised and prepared to prevent online threats and communicate vital information when it’s needed can help keep your business protected. Ideally, every business should have a cyber security plan (which includes preventative measures and an incident response plan) that maps out who the key stakeholders are in your organisation and outlines who needs to know what and when.

Understand your obligations

If your business were compromised tomorrow, who would you need to tell about the security breach? And how exposed would you be to legal action if you weren’t taking the necessary precautions to prevent it? According to the Managing Risks Online report, 34% of SMBs surveyed wouldn’t know what measures they need to take if their business experienced a cyber attack. It’s important to know that you have an obligation to protect the data of your customers and other parties working with your business, like contractors and suppliers.

Smaller businesses are now being seen as easier targets, or as gateways to access larger corporations through supplier lists or personal data. To this end, having a cyber security plan that lays out the steps needed in the event of a cyber incident can help to ensure your team knows the steps of escalation – from capturing the security breach to resolving the issue and locking down at-risk data.

Look beyond your current business needs

As your business grows, your IT and cyber security needs to grow with it. As small businesses become medium businesses, the risks of a security breach can increase exponentially. The more devices (and people using those devices) in a network, the greater your risk to threat exposure.

For smaller businesses that can’t afford a full-time cyber security team, building established relationships with trusted providers instead can be a solid first step. Having a cyber security expert on hand that knows your business can help with preventing threats in the first place, but also mitigate a situation if an incident were to occur.

The planning phase of keeping your business secure online can have a significant effect on how protected your business will be in the future. From involving business leaders and your team early, to knowing your responsibilities and considering scalability, it’s worth exploring these factors to develop a thorough security plan for your business.

Originally published March 28th 2019. Updated on March 16th 2021.

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