One of the most important aspects of running a business is risk assessment and protecting your enterprise, and in the days of technology and the internet, one of the biggest threats to a company is online fraud. Despite this, not enough business owners are taking these risks seriously, particularly those who run smaller businesses.
But in this digital age, cybercrime is on the rise and these criminals are always finding new ways to hack into a company’s system and illegally access their data. And while we can’t stop cybercrime altogether, there are steps you can take to keep your business safe. In this guide, we’ll talk you through four ways to put effective security measures in place and help to protect your company from online fraud.
Run a security assessment
The best way to understand how safe your security systems are is to run an assessment. If you know what you’re doing, you can run the assessment yourself or have a member of your team do it for you. If, however, you’re unsure, you can always hire in a third party to check your security systems instead. There are a number of providers out there for you to choose from and it can often be more effective to get a professional in as they’ll be able to better spot any potential weaknesses in your systems.
Once you’ve got a better understanding of how you can improve your security systems you can begin putting real changes in place. This could mean installing new firewalls in place, ensuring your networks are secure, updating any old software and making sure all devices used by staff are secure. There’s a lot to take into consideration when it comes to cybersecurity and protecting your business, but by first running an assessment you can highlight any issues and put them right.
Make sure you have a strong password policy
It seems so simple, but a strong password policy can make a real difference in protecting your business from online fraud. The stronger your passwords, the harder it is for cybercriminals to access your systems. There are several steps you can take to implement a strong password policy. Follow the advice below to keep your business safe from hackers:
- Choose passwords that are at least eight characters long
- Avoid using common or predictable words like ‘password’
- Use a mixture of capital letters, lower case letters, numbers and characters where you can
- Teach your employees how to set strong passwords
- Teach them the importance of password protection and that these shouldn’t be shared with anyone else or used across multiple platforms
- It’s also a good idea to change passwords regularly for extra security – changing them every couple of months might feel excessive, but it can really help to keep your systems safe
Teaching your entire team about password best practise can reduce the risk of human error allowing cybercriminals to access your data. You could randomly generate passwords for your employees to ensure security. What’s more, you might want to implement an additional authentication code. This means you’ll need to have a special code or string of characters to authenticate the process after your password has been entered.
Know how to recognise the signs and educate your staff
It’s also a good idea to educate your team on the signs of online fraud. This way they’re more likely to spot suspicious activity and report it before the situation gets worse. This could be the difference between having to address a data breach and putting a stop to it before the hacker has a chance to get into your systems.
The important thing to remember is that online fraud isn’t always huge transactions and large sums of money going missing. In fact, cybercriminals often target smaller businesses and will make a number of small transactions over time to try and go unnoticed for as long as possible. The best ways to keep on top of this is to have a dedicated employee, usually in the accounts team, who keeps records of all transactions and investigates anything unusual. You can also get software which flags any strange activities on your accounts.
Finally, remind staff not to open any suspicious emails from addresses they don’t recognise and to flag anything they believe to be fraudulent to the IT team. They must never share their personal data with someone they don’t know, including their passwords or any confidential details about the company. The best rule to implement across your team is ‘if in doubt, flag it with the appropriate team member just to be safe’.
Be wary of outside parties and don’t fall for fraudulent requests
You can do everything right within your business, but you also need to take into account the role third parties can play in online fraud. For example, customers can attempt return fraud. What’s more, fraudulent contractors might try to bill you for work they haven’t done (or completed). These are just some examples of the types of online fraud you could fall victim too and these can be hard to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
The problem is most business owners are eager to please and want to keep a good reputation. As such, they rush to meet demands, pay invoices, deal with returns and keep everyone happy and the business ticking over. They may also teach their teams to behave in the same way and fraudsters take advantage of this. The only way to ensure you don’t become a victim of online fraud is to slow, down and ensure you scrutinise every request. Getting strong systems in place allows you to do this quickly and keep things running smoothly but reduces the risk of oversight and signing off on a fraudulent request without realising.
So in summary, you need to carefully evaluate every request you receive to ensure these are legitimate. Don’t be rushed into making a damaging decision. Cybercriminals like to use scare tactics by threatening dire consequences if you don’t act in a certain timeframe. Don’t fall for their lies. If you really are concerned about something or have received a worrying email, it’s best to seek legal advice or check out the real source of the email. Then you can act calmly and appropriately.