Preventing hackers from compromising business systems, stealing sensitive info and running your reputation is a key goal for modern firms.

The worst thing you can do is sit back and assume that you are safe, as organisations of all sizes are targeted by cybercriminals every day, with annual increases in attacks raising concerns.

With a little bit of guidance, you can make your business much safer and less susceptible to breaches, so consider penetration testing and these other tips and take preventative action sooner rather than later.

Carry out penetration testing

In the digital era it is sensible to assume that you have already adopted some form of cyber security. Whether these solutions will actually prove effective when they come up against legitimate threats is an entirely different matter.

Rather than crossing your fingers and hoping for the best, it is best to be proactive and use penetration testing to put your security through the wringer.

Through the steps of a penetration test you can assess everything from the resilience of your on-site infrastructure to the validity of your policy on the loss or theft of company-owned devices. Experts can take things further and give the physical security of your premises a once-over, ensuring that breaches cannot occur on-site or remotely.

Such a rigorous approach to testing is worth pursuing, especially as BYOD remains a big burden for businesses to shoulder.

Back up mission critical data

Taking the time to create a copy of the information your business needs to operate from day to day and store it in a secure location can mean the difference between surviving or crumbling after data loss or theft.

With the rise of the cloud, it has never been simpler or more affordable for commercial organisations to back up mission critical data. The main consideration when embracing this is whether the platform you are using is adequately protected in its own right.

The reason to invest in a resilient means of backing up data is that restoring it quickly can help avoid any unnecessary downtime, whether caused by hardware failure, hacking or any other unforeseen disruption. There is little excuse to overlook this at a time when it has become so cost-effective.

Adopt secure policies for staff

If your employees are not up to speed with the cyber threats that face your business, they could be the weak link in the security chain.

To counteract this, regular training and a robust central policy governing data security will be a major help.

You need to cover common areas of vulnerability, such as weak user passwords, ensuring that staff do not get complacent and leave internal systems or externally hosted IT solutions accessible to enterprising hackers.

Even with tighter requirements on what constitutes an acceptable password, there is no guarantee that a brute force attack will not break through. This is why many businesses are now choosing to adopt multi-factor authentication so that identifying genuine users is both easier and more secure.

Update software

From individual devices to entire IT infrastructures, some of the most significant security vulnerabilities can arise as a result of out of date software lingering for longer than is strictly necessary.

Whenever a flaw is found in a popular program or platform, updates are typically issued by developers quite quickly. The onus is then on business users to take the initiative and install the patch, even if some updates are less helpful than others.

You should also be mindful of how your network infrastructure is performing. If your internet connection is running slower than usual, it could be a sign of a compromised Wifi connection, so regular speed tests (see speedcheck.org) are recommended.

Plan for the worst

Even with the most comprehensive attempts to make your business hackerproof, it is impossible to completely guarantee that a breach will never be successful. Because of this, you need to make a contingency plan which will help you in the wake of an attack that compromises your systems.

This plan should not just focus on the behind the scenes recovery efforts; it also needs to include customer-facing communication so that you can let people know about the hack sooner rather than later and reassure them about the steps you are taking to remedy it.

This comes back to the idea of preparation and testing taking precedent. If you are ready for worst-case scenarios, you need not fear them.