While the world is busy battling with the Covid-19 Pandemic, another threat is emerging across phones, laptops and other digital devices - cyber attacks. This isn't the first time we've featured information to help our customers stay secure, but sadly according to reports, 2020 was the busiest year on record for cyber attacks against UK firms.
This article based on information from the National Cyber Security Centre will help you to see what you can do to help keep your payroll business secure.
1. Backup your data
Take regular backups of your important data, and test they can be restored. This will reduce the inconvenience of any data loss from theft, fire, other physical damage, or ransomware.
Identify what needs to be backed up. Normally this will comprise documents, photos, emails, contacts, and calendars, kept in a few common folders. Make backing up part of your everyday business.
Ensure the device containing your backup is not permanently connected to the device holding the original copy, neither physically nor over a local network.
Consider backing up to the cloud. This means your data is stored in a seperate location (away from your offices/devices), and you’ll also be able to access it quickly, from anywhere.
2. Keep your smartphones (and tablets) safe
Smartphones and tablets (which are used outside the safety of the office and home) need even more protection than ‘desktop’ equipment.
Switch on PIN/password protection/fingerprint recognition for mobile devices.
Configure devices so that when lost or stolen they can be tracked, remotely wiped or remotely locked.
Keep your devices (and all installed apps) up to date, using the ‘automatically update’ option if available.
When sending sensitive data, don’t connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots - use 3G or 4G connections (including tethering and wireless dongles) or use VPNs.
Replace devices that are no longer supported by manufacturers with up-todate alternatives.
3. Prevent malware damage before it happens
You can protect your organisation from the damage caused by ‘malware’ (malicious software, including viruses) by adopting some simple and low-cost techniques.
Use antivirus software on all computers and laptops. Only install approved software on tablets and smartphones, and prevent users from downloading third party apps from unknown sources.
Patch all software and firmware by promptly applying the latest software updates provided by manufacturers and vendors. Use the ‘automatically update’ option where available.
Control access to removable media such as SD cards and USB sticks. Consider disabling ports, or limiting access to sanctioned media. Encourage staff to transfer files via email or cloud storage instead.
Switch on your firewall (included with most operating systems) to create a buffer zone between your network and Internet.
4. Avoid phishing attacks
In phishing attacks, scammers send fake emails asking for sensitive information (such as bank details), or containing links to bad websites.
Ensure staff don’t browse the web or check emails from an account with Administrator privileges. This will reduce the impact of successful phishing attacks.
Scan for malware and change passwords as soon as possible if you suspect a successful attack has occured. Don’t punish staff if they get caught out (it discourages people from reporting in the future).
Check for obvious signs of phishing, like poor spelling and grammar, or low quality versions of recognisable logos. Does the sender’s email address look legitimate, or is it trying to mimic someone you know?
5.Use passwords to protect your data
Passwords - when implemented correctly - are a free, easy and effective way to prevent unauthorised people from accessing your devices and data.
Make sure all laptops, Macs and PCs use encryption products that require a password to boot. Switch on password/ PIN protection or fingerprint recognition for mobile devices.
Use two factor authentication (2FA) for important websites like banking and email, if you’re given the option.
Avoid using predictable passwords (such as family and pet names). Avoid the most common passwords that criminals can guess (like passw0rd).
If you forget your password (or you think someone else knows it), tell your IT department as soon as you can.
Change the manufacturers’ default passwords that devices are issued with, before they are distributed to staff.
Provide secure storage so staff can write down passwords and keep them safe (but not with their device). Ensure staff can reset their own passwords, easily.
Consider using a password manager, but only for your less important websites and accounts where there would be no real permanent damage if the password was stolen.
How we can help keep your payroll business secure
At Forest Computer Solutions, we work hard to keep our customers and their data secure. If you would like to speak to us about how we can help you benefit from our payroll software expertise. Please get in touch.