Cybercrime continues to increase and Kiwi businesses need to protect themselves against the cyber criminals and hackers who are targeting businesses' data. MAS Senior System Support Administrator Sydney Kanda says there are ten things business owners can do to make their networks harder to attack.

Sydney also recommends business owners consider investing in cyber insurance to provide peace of mind that in the event a cyber security breach does occur – they are protected and the costs associated with managing the breach are covered. 

MAS Cyber Insurance provides cover for all kinds of costs associated with a cyber security breach. These include the cost of public relations advice required to deal with the fallout of a public data breach, or the cost of data forensic experts to examine, analyse and secure a computer network. 

Icon graphic interface showing secure firewall technology for online data access defense against hacker, virus and insecure information for privacy


Ten tips to protect your business from cybercrime

1. Keep software updated

Hackers look for weaknesses in software that can provide a way into computer systems. Software creators are constantly reviewing their systems and updating them to remove the weakness as soon as they find them. Businesses need to ensure their software is updated as soon as these updates are made available, otherwise they risk using a system with vulnerabilities that can be taken advantage of. 

2. Remove default services you don't need

New smartphones and computers come with a range of default services already installed. The more apps and services you have on your device, the more opportunities there are for hackers to access your systems. Remove any unused services and apps to minimise the risk. 

3. Test backups regularly

Data always needs to be backed up. If your business is attacked by cyber criminals, having a backup of your critical data allows you to restore your systems quickly without losing critical information. Set up a system to test your backups to ensure you have stored all your data securely. 

4. Create a whitelist and a blacklist

Create an inventory of the applications and programs that are allowed on your computer network – that's your software whitelist. Then blacklist any programs you don't need, making them unauthorised and unable to run on your computers. 

5. Apply least privilege

Not everyone in your organisation needs access to all the data your business holds. The more people who can access sensitive information, the greater the risk of that data getting into the wrong hands. Only those people who need the information to do their jobs should be given access. 

It's also worth blocking traffic from countries where you don't have business. Unless you're doing business with Bulgaria and Tunisia, for example, you can restrict Internet Protocol addresses (IP address) from geographic areas to prevent access. 

6. Keep a log 

Keep a log of online traffic across your entire computer network. If your system is attacked, experts will be able to identify whether hackers are still in the system or have left programs that can cause hard. 

7. Network segmentation

Divide your computer networks into departments, so that you can control access to sensitive information. For example, Marketing does not need access to financial information, and IT doesn't need access to sales data. Segmenting your network adds extra barriers so that if hackers do get access to one area of the network, it will be harder for them to infiltrate other areas of the business. 

8. Strengthen passwords and authentication 

Ensure your networks have strong passwords and add multi-factor authentication. Simple passwords, such as summer99 can be hacked within about 30 seconds, whereas S9mm3rH200 might take three or four weeks to be hacked. Multi-factor authentication provides a second line of defence by requiring you to enter a code that is sent to your mobile phone or a secondary email address to confirm your identity. A hacker might be able to break into your email, but without your phone, they cannot confirm any identity and will be blocked from any further access. 

9. Manage the life cycle of your assets

Computer software and hardware needs to be replaced to keep it up to date and secure. When upgrading hardware, it's important to get these devices wiped, removing any critical information from them to remove the risk of that data getting into the wrong hands. 

10. Beware of macros

Macros are small programs that can be run in office productivity software like Microsoft Office. They're sometimes essential to help the software work but attackers can also use macros to hide malicious malware. If you don't need macros in your organisation, disable them altogether. 

Man in a darkened room using numerous computer screens to hack others

  • Share

You might also like
group-of-hackers-sitting-at-computers-wearing-facemasks

Cyber crime during the COVID-19 pandemic

21 October 2020

We tend to think about the people we have lost, or have become sick, or the economic impact when we talk about the impact of COVID-19. Less well understood are the opportunities that opened up for cyber crime with the move for most to online.

Image-of-flooded-basement-with-a-vanity-and-some-chairs-floating-in-the-water-listing.png

Common holiday home insurance claims and how you can avoid them

29 November 2018

These tips can help safeguard your holiday home from some of our most common claims caused by water damage, stormy weather or burglars.

infographic of girl on computer surrounded by money symbols

The future of managing our money

14 April 2020

New technology is changing the way we handle our finances but are we ready for this digital transformation?