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Are you self-employed and wondering what cyber security is? The world of cyber security can sometimes feel like a bit of a jargon-filled minefield, especially when you’re getting to grips with a new business. Our friends at the Cyber Resilience Centre have shed some light on their top tips to improve the security of business online.

Setup Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (often referred to as two-factor authentication or 2FA) is used by online website and software to double-check your login details you input when using online services. Often you will have seen this when logging into your bank account, emails or on social media. Multi-factor authentication is often done by sending a code to your phone via a text message, email, notification or with your mobile app.

Whilst passwords can be stolen or hacked into by cybercriminals, which could potentially see them gain access to your online accounts. Accounts that use Multi-Factor Authentication require an extra check, so even if a scammer knows your password, they won't be able to access your account.

Setting up Multi-Factor Authentication is often simple to apply, with most online services already having it enabled. We’d recommend you switch it on yourself to give you an extra layer of protection to your online accounts, especially any social media or cloud storage account. If available, the option to switch on is usually found in the security settings of your account (where it may also be called 'two-step verification).

Review your Privacy Settings

It’s so important to avoid sharing any unnecessary information about you or your company. Revisit your devices and social media account privacy settings and review the settings listed.

If you've just bought a new phone, laptop or tablet or haven't reviewed your security settings for a while, take some time to make sure you're protected against the latest threats. Fortunately, most manufacturers provide easy-to-use guidance on how to secure your devices.

Privacy settings for Social Media:

  • Facebook: basic privacy settings and tools
  • Twitter: how to protect and unprotect your Tweets
  • Youtube: privacy and safety
  • LinkedIn: account and privacy settings overview

Keep your data backed up

All businesses, regardless of size, should make time to make sure they have regular backups of their important data. By backing up your data, you're ensuring your business can still function should the worst happen (flood, fire, physical damage or theft). You’re also making sure you have a backup of your data that you can quickly recover, should you be faced with a ransomware attack.

Take advantage of cloud storage (your data is physically separate from your location and is stored securely online). Cloud storage means you can have a data storage point without the needing for a large investment in costly hardware. Whilst most providers offer a limited amount of storage space for free, the larger storage capacity is a worthwhile investment to a small business.

Ensure your offline documents are secure

It’s important that security in your home office matches how secure you are online. Whilst paper documents, voice and video calls at home may not have the same levels of physical security and privacy as when in the office, you need to make sure any important documents are locked away or secured when not in use or if you are shredding any business documents make sure they are securely disposed of.

If you are working in a shared office or out working in a local cafe or restaurant it’s important to be conscious of sharing any sensitive information over phone or video call. If you are on a video call be sure to double-check that nothing is written down on your notepad or in the background whilst on your video calls.

Always report suspicious text and emails you have received

If you receive a message from a company you don’t normally receive communications from, or someone you do not know. If you are suspicious of this message, report it. By doing so you'll be helping to protect many more businesses and individuals from being affected.

Emails

If you have received an email that you’re not sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at report@phishing.gov.uk.

Text messages

Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726. This free-of-charge shortcode which enables your phone provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.

 

You can register for Core Membership with the Cyber Resilience Centre, which includes the latest guidance for self-employed and gig economy workers.