Cybercriminals employ automated codes that randomly attack thousands of computers at a time, exploiting those that are most defenseless, aka small businesses. Today, small businesses are some of the most frequent victims of cyberattacks.
So, as a small business owner, how do you ensure your business is protected? Preparation, prevention, and recovery.
The first step to creating strong cyber defenses is to learn and learn what you’re up against. Some of these attacks, as described in an article by Washington State University, are:
1. Data breach:
This is when vital information like customer, financial, or company data is “accessed, stolen, or copied to be sold or exposed.”
2. Malware attacks:
Malware is malicious software that includes spyware, ransomware, viruses, and worms. It targets an unsafe network typically through a dangerous link or email attachment that once clicked, installs a dangerous software that can covertly obtain data or interfere with the system’s operations.
One of the most popular cyber threats, phishing is when a hacker deceptively sends emails, messages, or any kind of communication from a seemingly trusted and credible source.
4. Man-in-the-middle attack:
This occurs when the attacker includes themselves between a two-way transaction. This is a common way to steal data and process information. It’s also called an eavesdropping attack.
5. Denial of Service attack:
This kind of attack overwhelms systems and servers with traffic in order to exhaust the bandwidth or resources, so it can’t perform actual request tasks.
Who’s At Risk?
While large companies make the news for enormous cybersecurity breaches, small businesses are equally, if not more, at risk. Attackers assume that small businesses aren’t funding in cyber defense systems, making them easy victims for stealing data like credit card information, customer data, and various other pieces of data.
1. Encrypt Your Devices
It’s necessary to ensure that when accessing network resources remotely, employees use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). What this does is encrypts your data while it's in transit between the network and the device. Anyone trying to hack this data will get encrypted data that’s unreadable unless you have the encryption key.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Weak passwords are gateways for hackers. Train your employees to use unique passwords that have at least 10+ characters, a number, special characters, and lower and upper case letters.
3. Use Stronger Antivirus Software
It isn’t enough to just have a firewall. As a business, it’s of prime concern that you spend quality anti-virus software that can identify potential threats to your system and notify you if a breach has happened.
4. Keep Your Systems Up-to-Date
The key to confronting cyber threats is having systems, servers, or browsers that aren’t unsafe. You can guarantee this by continually updating your software and using your anti-virus program to make sure the system is never jeopardized.
Disaster Recovery Plan
Even if you’ve followed all the protocols, there is a possibility your business may face a breach. A recovery plan is a preemptive action that describes steps and delegates tasks in case your business’ network and data are endangered. Your disaster recovery plan steps should be:
1. Liaising with Your Cyber Insurance Provider
In the event of a security breach, your company could face a huge amount of financial liability. The ideal cyber insurance policy will guarantee that you have the cost of repair, recovery, and restoration covered as well as legal costs included in making clients know the news.
2. Informing Stakeholders
It’s essential to let everyone involved — employees, suppliers, clients, and customers — know instantly in case of a cyber attack. To reassure your stakeholders and be honest with them about the degree and results of the attack.
3. Determine the Scope of the Attack
After a security breach, you should react quickly and audit the scope of the loss as well as ascertain possible vulnerabilities. This will help recognize the cause of the attack, what the security gaps are, and where to go next.
Cybersecurity is becoming a norm for companies. Learning about, investing in, and defending your business from cybersecurity can save it from a host of impending obstacles like data compromise, loss of customers, loss of income, and so on. Being proactive about cybersecurity is the best course of prevention.