It was late last night and I was alone in the office.  I was busy and not paying attention to the warning signs around me.  If only I had listened more to the cautionary advice, I wouldn’t find myself in this scary situation now.

The phone rings ominously and startles me.  It’s my IT guy telling me the firm’s IT systems were hacked and the hackers planted a Ransomware virus that completely froze all the company’s computer systems.  The hackers are demanding an impossible payment in bitcoin or we will lose all our data.

Fortunately, this horror story is a fictional one I just made up.  Unfortunately, it’s a nightmare scenario that’s becoming increasingly more real for small and medium sized businesses, and in particular the construction industry.  There’s constant movement of money, frequent turnover of personnel, and critical knowledge and documentation of infrastructure and building system information that makes contractors a growing target.

Are you prepared, and do you know what to do in the event of a cyber-security breach?

If you have a cyber-insurance policy, IT safety measures in place, and have practiced “what if” fire drills, dealing with a breach can be slightly less scary.  If you’re one of the people who thought this could never happen to you, now is the best time to start planning for that frightening event.  Here are some simple steps to follow:

  • Purchase cyber insurance through a reputable broker
  • Install, update and use antivirus and anti-spyware software
  • Install a robust firewall
  • Backup, backup, backup (and test restore them!)
  • Have a strong password policy
  • Conduct a cyber-security readiness assessment

“You don’t know what you don’t know” is certainly a true claim when it comes to hackers and IT security.  Cyber-crime evolves daily and it’s hard to keep up.  It never was, and never will be, a “one and done” process.  Hire an expert to come out and do a cyber-security readiness audit.  They will tell you where your vulnerabilities lie and provide a road map of how to stay safe.  Most reputable companies will charge a small fee for the service, but it’s well worth it in the long run.

Here’s to a Halloween full of IT treats and no tricks!