6 tips to safeguard your small business from cybercriminals

By Shamini Schaaf, head of Tarsus Academy
Cybercrime is a growing threat to small and medium businesses as criminals target their bank accounts and proprietary information. The consequences of falling prey to malware or a hacker can be devastating for a small business: loss or theft of sensitive information, permanent damage to customers’ trust in the company, hours of lost productivity, and even heavy financial losses.
For a small business owner, staying ahead of relentless, well organised and sophisticated cybercriminals may seem like a daunting task. These common sense tips can help your small business secure its systems and data from information security threats. Training from a company like our partner, Wolfpack Information Risk, can also help prepare your IT team for the challenges of creating a strategy for today’s complex information security landscape.

1: Remember that people are always the weakest link
As important as it is to invest in robust security software, remember that your people are the most vulnerable point in your company’s infrastructure. That’s why you should invest in educating them about information security and put your information security policy in writing.
Basic training courses can help employees become more mindful of the many scams that exist – from phishing emails that try to entice them to surrender their passwords to phone calls from fraudsters looking for personal information. Make sure that your staff understands that:
• Organisations such as your bank will never ask for login details over email or the phone
• They should never follow an email link that prompts them to log in to a bank or online account – it might be from a phisher
• They should be vigilant for signs that an email isn’t genuine: obvious spelling and grammar mistakes, a mismatch between the email domain and the company name, or a promise of money that’s simply too good to be true
• They should be careful of the permissions they give mobile apps, especially if they use their mobile phones for work

2: Keep your software up to date
Software updates often contain critical security vulnerability fixes which close off holes that hackers might exploit to gain access to your systems. It’s thus wise to activate automatic updates for all your software, including your operating system (Windows), antivirus software, Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and Java. Use applications like Update Checker and AppFresh to see if your other applications are up to date.

3: Install antivirus on all devices
With the plethora of malware that currently exists on the Internet, it’s essential to download and install either a commercial or a free antivirus. More comprehensive products will include tools such as firewall, parental control and anti-spam in addition to the malware protection.

4: Don’t open email or attachments from untrusted sources
Be wary of email attachments from unfamiliar email addresses; be careful of opening executable files even from people you know.

5: Be mobile app savvy
Don’t be complacent about mobile apps – occasionally something dangerous can slip through the approval process on the official Google and Apple app stores. Be wary of what permissions app seek to access your personal data – why should a weather app want access to your contact list. Also, don’t jail break or root your device so you can run pirated software – this will expose you to a larger risk of malware, quite aside from the legal and moral issues.

6: Create strong passwords
Password-protect all your devices – laptops, mobile phones and tablets – so that other people can’t access them without your permission. Create strong and unique passwords, preferably different ones for different devices, apps, and online services. You can use a password manager like 1password to manage the challenge of remembering different passwords.
Ensure your passwords are strong so they can’t be easily guessed or cracked: they should be longer than seven characters and make use of a combination of lower case, upper case numbers and special characters (e.g. @ # $ % !). Don’t share your password with anyone or write it down. For an extra layer of security, use two-factor authentication. This means setting up your apps and services to require both a password and a one-time PIN (sent via email or SMS) or a fingerprint.

Comment on This Article

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Us

Tarsus Technology Group (TTG), formerly MB Technologies (MBT), has been one of the leaders in Southern African technology landscape since 1985. TTG offers its customers the highest quality products, solutions and professional services including supply chain optimisation, cloud-based solutions, IT security services, compliant disposal of IT goods and electronic goods.

Group companies include Tarsus Distribution, Tarsus SecureData, Tarsus On Demand, Tarsus Emerging Markets, Tarsus Dispose-IT, Printacom and GAAP.

The Group aims to add value not only to its customers but to its larger community and stakeholders. It focusses on being a useful and productive corporate citizen through its flexibility, adaptability, expert customer and technology insight, skill-sets, successful track record and an ongoing and unwavering commitment to the channel model.

TTG is majority black-owned and more than 30% black women-owned and is currently undergoing a BBBEE audit with a projected level 4 as measured under the new ICT Charter.

Tarsus Technology Group’s head office is situated in Johannesburg with branches in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and the Free State. TTG has an African footprint with branches in Namibia, Botswana, and with representation in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique.

More information about the Tarsus Technology Group is available at: http://www.tarsus.co.za.


read more

Contact Us

1 Ruacana Street Unit C3 98 Exton Road
Waterfall Commercial District Waterfall Park Riverside Industrial Hilton
Buccleuch Ext 9 Nelspruit Bloemfontein
2090 1200 9301
PO Box 785778 PO Box 785778 PO Box 785778
Sandton Sandton Sandton
2146 2146 2146
Tel: 011 531 1000 Tel: 013 755 1476 Tel: 051 4111 560
Fax: 011 531 1074 Fax: 086 619 0899 Fax: 051 433 1588
Platinum Park 80 Mangold Street Villa Avant Garde
2 Platinum Crescent Newton Park 96 Armstrong Avenue
Milnerton Port Elizabeth La Lucia Ridge
7441 6055
PO Box 1490 PO Box 34725 PO Box 30962
Milnerton Newton Park Mayville
7435 6055 4058
Tel: 021 527 3900 Tel: 041 392 6700 Tel: 0861TAR DBN/0861827326
Fax: 021 555 2720 Fax: 041 365 4258 Fax: 031 535 6720
43 Tal Street Unit 2A7 2nd Floor Plot 103, Unit 6
Windhoek Cyber Tower 1 Gaborone   International Commerce Park
Ebene Kgaleview Postnet
PO Box 86601 Mauritius PO Box   AD 98 AAF
Eros Gaborone
Tel: +264 61 222413 Tel: +230 468 1033 Tel: +267 397 2788
Fax:+264 61 224817 Fax:+230 454 6307 Fax:+267 397 2928


read more

Our People

Miles Crisp, Tarsus Technology Group CEO

Anton Herbst, Head of Strategy at Tarsus Technology Group

Gary Pickford, CEO: Tarsus Distribution

Mike Rogers, CEO: Tarsus SecureData

Kathryn Tindale, Tarsus On Demand Sales Director

read more