How to Arm Your Small Business Against Cyber Attacks

With cyber attacks on the rise, you’ll need to understand the importance of data security and how messaging apps can help protect your data

How to Arm Your Small Business Against Cyber Attacks

In the past year, two-thirds of UK businesses have been the target of cyber attacks involving viruses, spyware or malware, according to Government research.

Ed Vaizey the digital economy minister has said:

“The UK is a world-leading digital economy and this government has made cyber security a top priority. Too many firms are losing money, data and consumer confidence with the vast number of cyber-attacks. It’s absolutely crucial businesses are secure and can protect data.”

After the cyber-attack on Talk Talk last October, the government released The Cyber Governance Health Check also known as “the Tracker”. The Tracker is a non-technical governance questionnaire comprised of 37 questions. It assesses FTSE 350 Companies’ boards and committees and their extent of understanding and overseeing risk management measures that address cyber security threats to their business.

Importance of data security

Data security is vital for businesses, as personal information about clients and employees, including their bank account details and individual files are stored the majority of the time on computer servers/ in the cloud. The organisation is responsible for the security of data, if an unauthorised “intruder” gains access to the data then the business can face greater consequences as they suffer serious problems.

Not only can these intruders share this personal information for malicious causes, they can also use payment information like credit card numbers and account details to make transactions on the person’s behalf to cause them harm and financial losses. Businesses must do all that they can to protect the data stored by the organisation.

WhatsApp and Viber Media increase their levels of encryption

Instant messaging and VoIP platforms, WhatsApp owned by Facebook, and Viper Media owned by Rakuten added end-to –end encryption to their messaging platforms in April 2016.

WhatsApp were the first to add the end-to-end encryption to “every form of communication”, through their partnership with Open Whisper System on April 5 2016. Users can now verify other users’ keys, and can choose whether they are notified when a connection’s key changes by enabling a “trust on first use” mechanism.

WhatsApp’s messages are encrypted with Signal Protocol, the foundation of Open Whisper Systems’ technology. Signal Protocol is a modern open source, strong encryption protocol for non-synchronised messaging platforms. WhatsApp calls are encrypted with Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP) and all client-server communications are “layered within a separate encrypted channel”.

Viber Media soon followed. On 19 April 2016, Viber added end-to-end encryption for one-to-one and group conversations, though admitted it covers only those users with the latest Viber version for Android, iOS, Desktop and Windows 10. They use an encryption protocol that has only been audited internally with promises to commission external audits.

Business web chat software safety

With instant messaging platforms increasing their level of encryptions, what about those businesses that are using web chat messaging platforms to communicate with their website visitors? Are they as safe to use?

A web chat software provider to businesses in the UK ensures all data including their UK clients is completely safe; the best way to guarantee this is by holding every single bit of data within the UK, choosing the securest datacentre within Europe, Telecity. Being based in the UK means the company is regulated by ICO, therefore massive consequences will be in place if data is found to be at risk.

The business live chat system includes high levels of encryption, using 256 SSL bit encryption makes the software as secure as a payment/store checkout page.  The encryption has been in place since the software was developed, being increased as encryption levels grew, so unlike personal messaging apps, business live chat have been secure for longer.  No credit card or account numbers can be transmitted or stored over chat, therefore reducing the risk to information intruders could use for spiteful reasons.

Users fight against cyber attacks

Businesses have their responsibility to protect data, however users of software including web chat software can help fight to keep intruders out. One common issue that businesses have is letting users share log in profiles.

Most chat solutions offer multiple profiles, and even though it can be easier for one department to share a log in, it is not safe as most of the time the email and password used is very generic for example:, CustServ123; this is also not practical, if more than one user wants to log in at a time, the other person will get kicked out.

We’ve all done it, a colleague has forgotten a password to something and you have either shouted it out across the office or they have written it down and left it lying around.

Passwords should not be shared once set up, if a colleague has forgotten a password most software including live chat and websites will give users the chance to select ‘forgot password’, this will either email a prompt (once reminded this should be permanently deleted not stored) or they will be prompted to reset their password (perhaps choosing something a little more memorable next time!)

Web chat software can restrict users based on a number of things, the most useful one being their IP address. This way businesses can ensures only staff using their IP address can log into the software.

The other useful way to restrict users is by time, if for whatever reason a member of staff is in the office before or after hours, the business can ensure they can only log into the software during business hours where supervisors are monitoring the software.

We can all chip in

Whether you are a business protecting client, employee and the company’s data, or you are a user of personal instant messaging apps or business live chat software, we can all do our bit to help ensure it is harder for those UK businesses targeted for cyber-attacks to be hacked and to defend our own data.

For more information on how business live chat is secure for companies, users and clients take a look at Click4Assistances’ system security pdf.

Gemma Baker is the marketing executive for Click4Assistance

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