Recently we have had a stark reminder of what could happen should we not protect our companies from viruses. The recent cyber-attack which is spreading across the world shows just have vulnerable many people are and the fact that it is spreading across companies more rapidly than individuals also shows how all businesses are vulnerable.

However, the fact that the NHS have been effected has been put down to how expensive it is to upgrade the Windows software and particularly because they have bespoke software, which would also need to be rewritten if it was going to work on more recent versions of Windows. So how can you protect your company from being as vulnerable as this without spending lots of money.

Many companies, like the NHS, cannot afford to keep updating their Windows to new versions, but this does not have to mean that they are more vulnerable to cyber attacks. There are things that can be done, which will help reduce the risk without having to spend out lots of money.

It is important to make sure that you have a firewall and a good virus scanner on all computers which runs on new emails as well as across the computers files. These can be obtained free of charge, but it is important that they are used.

A virus scan should be done often, but it is also important that the virus checker is kept up to date as well because new ones emerge all of the time and this can also be done for free. As well as updating these, it is important to patch software as well, such as operating systems and email packages. These can be set up to automatically update when patches become available and this can be the safest way to do this, as it will prevent this job being forgotten.

It is just as important to make sure that all staff are aware of potential ways to get their information. This includes phishing websites, emails with attachments etc. Emails may seem to be sent form genuine colleagues, customers or whatever, but they could still contain viruses, which are disguised or well hidden.

You may feel that because an email looks genuine then it is safe, but it important to make sure that attachments and emails are scanned on receipt to protect against viruses and that all staff know how to check that a website is genuine by looking at the security certification. This sort of training can be done quickly and easily, by directing them to websites which explain it all or by sending them emails to look at.

Another way to protect yourself is to make sure that data is backed up frequently. Depending on how much you produce in a day it is wise to do this very regularly, perhaps daily, weekly or monthly.

This means that if data is lost in a similar attack to the recent ones, most of it can be recovered using the backups anyway and so there will be no need to pay the money to release it. Paying the ransom may not even give you access to the data anyway, so it is much better to not do this. You will also be encouraging the people behind it to keep trying as if they can get money, even just form a few people, it will be worth their while doing it again.