25th September 2023

The number of cyber security attacks on Australian businesses is increasing, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting the number has more than doubled since the 2019-2020 financial year, with 22% (one in 5) experiencing a cyber attack in 2021-2022.

Even more alarming is that most SMEs have no idea of the implications of a cyber security attack or the time it takes to recover from one. According to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, 60% of Australian SMEs don’t survive a cyber attack or data breach. These figures highlight the importance of having a cyber security strategy in place for your business. Read on to find out some basic tips to help you get started.

Introduce Passphrases and Stop Using Passwords

Some of Australia’s largest companies have recently fallen victim to cyber attacks, resulting in significant data breaches. Consumers have been left in a panic each time, trying to figure out what data has been stolen and what risk it poses to them.

Cybercriminals are getting smarter, finding new ways to exploit online business systems to steal sensitive information. The repercussions of these breaches go well beyond financial losses, impacting privacy and the trust a customer places in your business.

So, how can you help your business ward off a cyber attack? First, you need to start with the basics. A simple, easy-to-implement measure that can make an immediate difference is switching to passphrases. By swapping out your passwords for passphrases (which are more complex and harder to crack), you can immediately help prevent your business from being breached. Unlike easy-to-crack passwords, passphrases (such as SydneyBeachWaves2023), offer a stronger defence against cyber threats due to their length and complexity.

This increased length and combination of words creates more combinations, making it far more challenging to guess or decipher. Plus, they’re often easier to remember.

Double Your Protection with Multi-Factor Authentication

Although using passphrases for your passwords is a great first step, you still be looking into additional security measures to protect your business. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) can assist in protecting your data by making it super tough for cyber attackers to hack. MFA requires users to provide two or more forms of identification before they are granted access. It requires a user to identify themselves with more than just a simple username and password before they can access online applications, networks or data. These can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Fingerprint
  • PIN
  • Card
  • Token
  • Email
  • SMS
  • Authenticator app

MFA adds an extra layer of protection to prevent cybercriminals from gaining unauthorised access. Two-factor authentication works under the same principle as MFA, but 2FA is limited to two forms of identification, whereas MFA can have 2 or more, making it even harder for cyber criminals to crack.

Keep Your Cyber Security Software Up-To-Date!

Installing cyber security software, such as anti-malware and anti-virus software, can also help protect your business from a cyber breach. Using cyber security software—and keeping it up to date—is an important step in protecting your business that most people overlook. By installing regular updates, you will ensure that known vulnerabilities will be fixed, making it harder for cyber attackers to exploit your online systems.

Cybersecurity software works to detect threats in real-time, using proactive measures and firewalls to stop cyber-attacks before they can cause serious harm. This software is vital for protecting your business’ information and critical infrastructure, including safeguarding energy grids, transportation systems, and healthcare facilities.

Education to Raise Awareness Amongst Your Team About Cybersecurity Threats

Finally, making cyber security measures mandatory within your business, as well as teaching employees how to implement these practices and their importance, is key to helping to protect your business from being breached. Many cyber-attacks are a result of human error, so it's critically important to educate your teams on how they can help minimise the risk of a cyber-attack on your business.

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