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CyberSteps Manchester businesses can take to prevent a cybersecurity breach

Steps Manchester businesses can take to prevent a cybersecurity breach

The importance of strong cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated. While this has been the case since the dawn of the digital age, recent seismic shifts in how we work and access our data have placed an even greater emphasis on this.

For business owners in Manchester, cybersecurity is a real and pressing concern. Preventing
cybersecurity breaches is an ongoing arms race between cyber-criminals and security
professionals that requires a proactive approach.

In this guide, we look at how such an approach can help businesses in Manchester prevent a cybersecurity breach.

How Manchester businesses can secure their data

Relatively speaking, securing your digital assets used to be fairly simple. In most cases, data was safely tucked away within the confines of a work network. The shift to remote working practices and cloud computing removed this safety net.

With Manchester businesses quick to embrace the “new norm”, cybersecurity has become a
major concern. Let’s look at some of the steps that can help businesses in Manchester embrace modern work practices whilst preventing cyber security breaches:

1. Understanding the threat landscape

The adage – know your enemy – is relevant here. Manchester businesses, like many others
globally, face a myriad of cyber threats. Recognising these threats is the first step towards
effective prevention. Some of the most prevalent threats include:
* Phishing attacks: Cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick employees into
revealing sensitive information or downloading malicious software.
* Ransomware: Malicious software that encrypts a user’s data, demanding payment
for its release.
* Man-in-the-middle attacks: Cybercriminals intercept and potentially alter
communication between two parties without detection.
* DDoS attacks: Overwhelming a system with traffic, causing it to crash.                                         * Unpatched software: Exploiting vulnerabilities in outdated software versions.

By staying informed about these threats, Manchester businesses can better prepare and
implement strategies to counteract potential cyber-attacks.

2. Importance of physical security

Physical security is often overlooked when it comes to protecting digital assets. However, unauthorised physical access can lead to data breaches just as devastating as online attacks and according to a report published by IBM physical data breaches account for 10% of successful attacks.

Key considerations include:
· Secure access: Implementing card or biometric access systems to restrict entry to
sensitive areas.
· Surveillance: Using CCTV cameras to monitor and record activity in and around
business premises.
· Secure storage: Ensuring sensitive documents and storage devices are locked
away.
· Employee training: Workplace culture influences cybersecurity, this fact underlies
the importance of training. Educating staff about the risks of tailgating and the
importance of reporting suspicious activities.

The importance of physical security cannot be over-emphasised as an essential part of an
integrated cybersecurity policy.

3. Implementing strong password policies

Passwords are often the first line of defence against cyber threats. However, despite this, they are often poorly implemented and easily hacked.

Some key guidelines that can help password security include:
Complexity: Encourage the use of a mix of characters, numbers, and symbols.
Length: Passwords should ideally be 12 characters or longer.
Regular changes: Implement a policy where passwords are changed every 60-90
days.
Avoid common words: Discourage the use of easily guessable words or phrases.

Two-factor authentication: Add an extra layer of security by requiring a second
form of identification beyond just a password.

By adopting these practices, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorised
access.

4. Backup and data recovery

Preparing for the worst is an essential part of any holistic approach to data security. A
successful cybersecurity breach can devastate a business, however, with a properly
implemented backup plan your data can be secured against cyber threats and physical threats
like fires and floods.

Some of the main considerations include:
· Regular backups: Schedule automated backups, whether daily, weekly, or monthly,
to secure storage solutions.
· Cloud storage: Utilise cloud services for off-site backups, ensuring data is safe from
physical threats like fires or floods.
· Test restores: Periodically test backup files to ensure they can be restored without
issues.
· Versioning: Maintain multiple versions of backups to recover data from specific
points in time.
· Data recovery plan: Have a clear strategy detailing the steps to take in case of data
loss, ensuring swift recovery.

5. Regular software updates

Keeping software up-to-date is a simple yet effective measure against cyber threats. Some of
the best practices include:
· Patch management: Regularly update operating systems and applications to fix
known vulnerabilities.
· Automated updates: Enable automatic updates where possible to ensure timely
installations.
· Vendor alerts: Subscribe to alerts from software vendors to stay informed about
critical updates.
· Employee training: Ensure staff understand the importance of updates and avoid
postponing them.

By maintaining updated software, businesses reduce the risk of breaches exploiting outdated
vulnerabilities.

6. Other key steps to prevent cyber security breaches

There are obvious steps like using an effective security suite including anti-virus, Firewall, and
VPN components. However, these are only effective if they are used as part of an integrated
approach to cyber security.

Some of the other steps that can help bolster cyber security include:
· Employee training: Businesses need to make the most of training and cybersecurity
is one of the key areas. Continuously educate staff on the latest threats and safe
online practices.
· Secure Wi-Fi networks: Ensure business Wi-Fi networks are encrypted and
password-protected. To further bolster security, consider implementing a cheap monthly VPN for an additional layer of protection on business Wi-Fi networks, ensuring encryption and password protection are complemented by enhanced online privacy measures.
· Third-party vetting: Thoroughly assess third-party vendors for their security
measures before collaboration.
· Incident response plan: Have a plan in place detailing actions to take in the event of
a breach.
· Monitor network traffic: Use tools to detect unusual activity that could indicate a
breach.

Securing Manchester’s digital future

Manchester has always been a forward-thinking city with an innovative business culture. This is
apparent in how seamlessly businesses throughout the city have adapted to the new working
practices and how these practices affect data access.

However, securing your digital assets in such an environment shouldn’t be an afterthought. By
following the steps listed above it is possible to keep your data secure whilst embracing the
convenience and effectiveness of the modern workplace.

Helen Greaney
Helen Greaney
I'm a journalist with more than 18 years' experience on local, regional and national newspapers, as well as PR and digital marketing. Crime and the courts is my specialist area but I'm also keen to hear your stories concerning Manchester and the greater North West region.
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