Steve Ross: Does your IT provider protect you from cyber-crime?

With the number of cyber-crime and information-security threats on the increase, as well as becoming a lot more sophisticated, are you confident that your business is adequately protected by your IT provider?

Shackleton Technologies managing director Steve Ross. Picture: Contributed
Shackleton Technologies managing director Steve Ross. Picture: Contributed

Do you trust your IT provider?

Trust is key in any business relationship and no more so than with your IT support provider. The same situation applies whether you have an internal IT department, an outsourced IT provider or a number of different suppliers providing you with different services, such as a hosted infrastructure.

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For the relationship to succeed, you need to trust that they are providing you with the level of support and advice that your business needs to succeed. Without this level of trust, it is unlikely that the relationship will work well enough for advice to flow successfully. If you trust your IT support provider, then be sure that they are offering you the best advice.

Do they help you to understand where threats come from?

The two biggest sources of these threats are via email and the internet.

You’ll no doubt have received, or know someone who has received, emails from HMRC, UPS, Apple or Dropbox or an email with a Word attachment regarding an invoice from a company you have never had any dealings with. Some are easy to spot as being fake, but others are not as easy and can fool end users into opening an attachment which contains a virus or giving away personal information.

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Steve Ross: SMEs are at risk from cyber-criminals

The other major threat is the internet. Everyone has heard of major retailers or suppliers sites being attacked or compromised, but what is less well known is that “malvertising” is an increasing threat.

Malvertising (or malicious advertising) involves using online advertising to spread malware. Because the adverts are placed on a reputable site, users are less aware of the risks as browsing a “non-reputable” site.

Make sure that your IT provider keeps you up to date with where threats to your business come from, so you can avoid cyber-attacks before they happen.

Have they helped develop your IT security strategy?

No IT security strategy will be 100 per cent foolproof. If you are the victim of a cyber-attack, each measure that is put in place will be scrutinised by cyber-criminals and new ways will be developed to bypass them. Once bypassed, your IT provider will undoubtedly introduce new measures to protect you from future threats and the process will repeat ad infinitum.

It is then worth investing time and effort into developing an up-to-date security strategy with your IT provider. Without one, your business is likely to be impacted sooner rather than later by one of these threats.

Where do you start?

If you are not sure what your IT strategy is, give your IT provider a call to arrange a sit down to go over what you currently have in place and, more importantly, how you can make improvements where needed.

Your IT provider should be able to create a bespoke security strategy to meet your needs, such as a business class ant-ivirus solution, firewalls or a robust back-up and disaster recovery strategy.

• Steve Ross is managing director of Shackleton Technologies