From cyberbullying to digital identity, Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness among young people of online issues.

But they’re not the only ones who need to be aware of online safety, writes Sean Richards, technical consultant at Evolve Business Group. Businesses are just as vulnerable to cyber threats if they don’t protect themselves appropriately.

The latest UK government survey shows a third of businesses (32%) and a quarter of charities (24%) report having experienced some kind of cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months. Although medium and large organisations seem to be at greater risk, no business is immune.

The average cost of a data breach was $4,45-million in 2023, the highest average on record, while the number of ransomware victims in March 2023 has nearly doubled from the previous year.

Here are some cybersecurity best practices all businesses should follow:

* Secure Authentication – Always employ a robust and distinct password for each of your crucial online accounts. Because managing multiple accounts with unique secure passwords can be challenging, we recommend the use of password managers. These tools can generate strong passwords and store them securely with easy retrieval. In addition to secure passwords, MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) should be setup on your online accounts where possible. This provides an extra layer of security, so even if someone manages to obtain your password, they would still need the second factor to successfully log in.

* Software Updates – Almost all (94%) of malware is delivered by email, so it’s vital to apply software updates for both your devices and applications as soon as they become available. These updates serve as a defence against viruses and various forms of malware whilst often bringing enhancements and new features. If possible, activate the ‘automatic updates’ feature in your device and application settings.

* Virtual Private Network (VPN) – This technology creates a secure and encrypted connection over the internet from your device to the VPN provider, making it significantly more challenging for unauthorised parties to intercept and access data. This becomes extremely important when utilising open and unsecured networks like public WiFi, as these are attractive targets for hackers looking to take advantage.

Plus, of course, training is crucial as more than 70% of cyberattacks originate within organisations. If in doubt, call in the experts.