Recent instability in Europe has brought with it the increased threat of cybercrime that has resulted in the UK government advising many businesses to step up their cyber security measures as a precautionary measure. With that in mind, we take a look at steps that businesses can take to protect themselves and their customers.
Understand where the vulnerabilities are
Identifying where weaknesses exist in your IT network is the first step towards being able to secure your systems against the risk of cyber-attack. Through external penetration testing, businesses can view and test their security measures through the eyes of a cybercriminal, replicating the tactics and practices of hackers to highlight flaws and gaps in the network that could be taken advantage of, with particular focus on areas where the most common weaknesses occur, usually at the point that two systems integrate. In addition to this, the process tests the efficiency of firewalls and anti-virus software, and how easy it is to access sensitive data such as customers’ personal information and card payment details.
Invest in strengthened technology
For businesses, particularly those that are smaller, the cost of updating IT systems and networks can be a barrier, with many relying on out-of-date technology and patching when necessary. This creates weaker and more vulnerable systems that are easy to target. Adequate budgeting for regular IT maintenance and updates should be a priority – cost will inevitably be less than the damage caused by cyber-attack.
Plan and implement policies and procedures
Do your employees understand their role in helping to prevent cyber-attacks and know what to do if they see anything suspicious? Setting out clear guidelines and company policies – on topics such as the use of personal IT equipment and mobile devices, the need for strong passwords/multi-factor authentication and ensuring software is up to date – is required to ensure that there is a coordinated approach to maintaining robust systems and that a clear and concise process is in place should these be infiltrated.
These policies and procedures are only effective if they are widely communicated throughout the organisation – ongoing engagement and education of employees will reinforce how their actions make all the difference.
Comply with data protection guidelines and PCI DSS
Data protection legislation and guidelines such as PCI DSS are designed to prevent sensitive personal and payment data getting into the wrong hands and to help you stay one step ahead of the hackers by creating barriers to make their target much harder to reach. Going through the process of achieving compliance will undoubtedly result in the creation of more robust systems and networks, protecting your business and your customers from the threat of cyber-attack.
At PCI Telecom we create bespoke, cloud-based card payment processing solutions that interface seamlessly and securely with other IT functions, enabling you to accept and process payments safely and swiftly over the phone, via IVR and online. Because our solutions are accredited to a PCI Level 1 standard, they provide the highest level of compliance regardless of the size of the organisation. Contact us today to find out more about how we can support your business.