How you can protect your business from cyber crime and IP theft

If you haven’t taken steps to protect your business from cyber crime and IP theft it’s important you start now. In this article we’ll explore how.

We are moving online more and more rapidly by the second. We are giving our information out online. We are putting our intellectual property out online as course creators experts, coaches, consultants.

We now depend on the online space for our income. We depend on the online space to move forward, to become who we are becoming, to reach our audience to change people’s lives.

But as much as being online is serving us; we are also putting ourselves at risk, putting our business at risk and potentially (even without us realizing), breaking the law. 

In this article, I share advice from a qualified expert in the space of cybersecurity, keeping businesses cyber safe – Caitriona Ford. Caitriona shares her tips on how we can stay cyber safe when we depend on the cyber world of business.

What if you get hacked?

So many businesses are getting hacked by hackers and criminals, and that can be a devastating effect on your business. It can cost a huge amount of money and also affect your brand. Some don’t recover for a long time. 

Many people are still unaware of it, and one of the statistics I heard I think it was two years ago, was that 95% of all cyber attacks are due to human error.

It’s easy for us to think “we’re like small one man businesses at home, that doesn’t really apply to me”. I’m just creating my courses. I’m just doing my coaching online. It doesn’t really affect me, but it does! 

Change your passwords

Everybody hates changing passwords, and I was one of these people as well until I started studying and realizing the hackers already have my passwords. If you use social media and any online platforms and you haven’t changed your password in the last 12 months, the hackers have your password.

There’s a few online sites that you can go to and you can put your email address in, you can actually see everywhere where your password has been stolen. It’s through data breaches.

Cyber criminals’ primary goal is to make money. Any personal information, they sell that on the dark web to people that want try and scam you. Just think of these criminals as the new age burglar. 

Especially for solo entrepreneurs and even small businesses, you are at risk because you’re the low hanging fruit. You don’t invest money in your IT. You don’t look at your security. So therefore you’re an easy target. And some of these people come from third world countries where a hundred bucks to them could be a month’s worth of groceries or a month’s worth of living. 

Use password storage tools

A lot of us who are working online, are using password storage tools. If you have contractors that work all over the world with you, you have to share your account access to a lot of different online profiles. You feel like you’re doing the right thing using these storage tools. But is it really that safe?

Password managers are definitely much better than just using the same password over different platforms. The best company password manager tools offer features like password generation, secure file storage, password security audit score, and two-factor authentication. The safety of any password management really only depends on their encryption. For example, if a tool uses 256-bit AES encryption that means it’s one of the safest out there. 

What is a strong password?

There’s been a lot of research around, the best types of passwords for security. It’s really important, not only where we’re storing them, but what passwords we’re using too. If you’re going to use a password manager and use your dog’s name, or your daughter’s name or where you live, they’re still going to be able to hack them. 

I always use the random generator and I never had the same password for any of my online accounts. So I let my password manager generate it for especially my social media platforms.

At least once a month, I would do an exercise of changing passwords for at least the main accounts that I use. For instance, your social media platforms. If you can do two factor authentication for these accounts as well.

If you do the basic things, you don’t have to invest a huge amount of money to keep yourself safe. I always say prepare for when it will happen, because it will happen inevitably.

You just need to look up what’s your intellectual property. What do you need to recover to keep your business going if it did happen? And that’s how you plan for the worst.

Keep your intellectual property safe

How do we keep our IP safe as course creators? Look at where you’re saving your IP. Is it on a cloud resource or a cloud server? Check if you have full control and full ownership of that data when it’s online.

There is some platforms in their T&C’s very well hidden that they own the rights to your data once you save it on that platform. It’s not so much a bigger issue now than it was a years ago, but it’s still something that you need to be aware of.

The other thing I would say is in be aware of your legislation within your industry. You just need to be aware again of what your legal obligations are in terms of storing your data and where it’s stored. For some industries, you have to store the data within the country, for example. 

And the big one is: always backup, backup, backup, backup. And if your data is stolen, how do you get it back? If you have a backup, you can obviously recover. But if you don’t, then you have to pay the ransom if criminals ask for that. Online clouds are still at risk of data loss, so you should consider backing up for OneDrive and other storages with c2c backup solutions.

I always say have multiple copies of your data. I always advise depending on the size of your business, but for very critical data that you need to keep your business going, I would always make sure that you have multiple copies in various locations. 

By qualified educator and course creation specialist Sarah Cordiner.