As lockdown eases and you get back to business, protecting yourself against cyber attacks might not be your highest priority at the moment, says NHBF finance director Kishon Mather, but you must stay on your guard.
He explains: “Fraudsters and scammers continued to target businesses – including many small businesses – during lockdown, and they certainly won’t stop now. Recent examples include letters with false UK Government headings telling business owners that they must buy air purifiers. Always report scams at actionfraud.police.uk.”
“Look out for emails that are falsely claiming to be from the NHS Test and Trace service, HMRC, the UK Government, local councils or your bank,” says Kishon. “We have also heard of scams involving fake adverts for items such as PPE and offers of help to claim benefits.”
What can you do
Be extremely wary if you receive any requests for financial information, bank details or instructions to take urgent action of any kind, including to make a payment, warns Kishon.
“Scam emails can look very convincing and difficult to tell apart from genuine ones. Always take a moment to carry out some checks before taking any action. Look out for basic spelling and grammar mistakes, emails addressed to ‘friend’ or ‘colleague’, dodgy logos and offers for products and services at very low prices.”
Check any web addresses included in the email. If it is different to the web address of the legitimate organisation, it’s highly likely that you have received a scam email.
“Be on the alert for fake phone calls, too,” Kishon points out.
“Never give out personal or financial details over the phone – particularly passwords. If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, inform your bank straight away.”
Protect your business
“Scammers often see smaller businesses as an easy target. It’s vital to protect your business against damage to your finances and reputation,” says Kishon.
All your devices should be password/PIN/fingerprint-protected and set up to use two-step authentication where this is offered and always use anti-virus software.
“Store your passwords securely and don’t use the same one for every account. For example have different passwords for your email account, client details, staff details and bank account,” advises Kishon.
Back-up your data
Make sure all your data is backed up on a regular basis. This will avoid losing vital information and records if your systems are attacked by a cyber criminal.
“Your back-up files should not be permanently connected to your main computer system, either physically or via a local network,” says Kishon.
Find out how to guard against cyber attacks: nhbf.co.uk/cyber-threats
NHBF members can download an indepth guide to GDPR (nhbf.co.uk/gdprguide) and a range of free GDPR resources (nhbf.co.uk/gdprtemplates).
GDPR: Stay legal
“Salons hold data on clients and employees that is very valuable to cyber criminals,” warns Kishon. “Under General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you must ensure all personal data you hold is secure and protected. This includes contact details currently being collected for services such as NHS Test and Trace.”
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