Cybersecurity: How Small Businesses Can Protect Themselves from Unforeseen Threats
Cybersecurity is one of the most underrated security concepts, especially for small businesses. As it may seem, many large companies are affected by security issues, such as data breaches, while small businesses may not experience this dilemma. In actuality, the latter is not true. According to a study by Verizon, small businesses accounted for 61% of national data breaches.
To firmly protect your business from deliberate outside attacks, here is a complete overview of the entire aspect of cybersecurity and how you can keep your business safe.
Why Are Small Businesses At Risk?
Many entrepreneurs underestimate their risk of cyber attacks for a variety of different reasons. According to a report by Towergate Insurance, 82% of small business owners claim that they aren’t cyber attack targets, simply because they don’t have any digital assets worth stealing. This misconception is grossly misguided due to various internal and external factors.
Furthermore, the primary reason why small businesses are easy targets for cyber attacks is that these businesses possess more digital assets than a single individual, and that small businesses are generally less secure than larger enterprises. In addition, hackers will attack small businesses to even gain access to the larger companies they work with.
Because small businesses rarely make investments into cybersecurity methods, hackers can swiftly coerce entrepreneurs to pay a ransom for their stolen data. Understanding this risk, small businesses need to be aware that cybersecurity is a major priority, and should duly invest the proper resources to ensure that their data is secure.
What Are the Types of Cyber Attacks?
The primary goal of a cyber attack is to steal and exploit sensitive data, whether if its an individual’s credit card information or a person’s login credentials. After this information is stolen, the hacker can control the victim’s identity.
As the tactics of hackers evolve over time, numerous types of cyber attacks are created to outsmart current security safeguards. Although this isn’t an exhaustive list of the types of cyber threats, businesses should be keen on the major ways of how they can be potentially targeted by a hacker.
- Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) – APTs are long dangerous cyber attacks committed over an extended period of time. Once a hacker breaks into a system, they will attempt to gain control over the network while remaining undetected. Even if the issue is detected and solved, the hacker would still have other ways to harm your network.
- DDoS – DDoS, or distributed denial of service mainly occurs when a hacker deliberately overloads a network system or website until it shuts down, opening up the possibility for an attack.
- Inside Attack – This attack happens when an employee from inside the business uses their credentials obtain access to confidential information. Usually, former employees who have left the company on bad terms pose the highest rate in this situation.
- Malware – Malicious software, otherwise known as malware, is defined as a program disguised to enter the target’s computer to cause damage. Common types of malware are viruses, trojans, worms, and spyware.
- Phishing – One of the most popular and widely used cyber attacks, phishing involves the activity of collecting sensitive information through a fraudulent website that appears to be legitimate. Millions of victims are tricked via email. Therefore, small businesses must promptly report any phishing emails to their email provider to reduce the chance of a cyber attack.
- Ransomware – Ransomware falls under the umbrella of malware. As the name suggests, once ransomware infects your computer, it demands a ransom. This type of virus can lock you out of your computer and demand a ransom in exchange for sensitive data.
- Zero Day Attack – One of the worst case scenarios for entrepreneurs is when a hacker discovers unknown flaws into a network and freely engages access for a long time before developers and security staff are aware. This scenario is known as a Zero Day Attack, or simply an unsuspected malicious attack on a business’ networks.
How Can Small Businesses Protect Themselves?
Understanding the risks associated with cybersecurity is only part of the battle. Realizing that there are numerous security measures you can take is the first step of ensuring that your business is protected from any malicious attacks. Here are some ways that small businesses can protect themselves from cyber attacks.
- Antivirus Software – Installing a proven antivirus software is an effective way to eliminate the possibility of receiving malware on your computers; thus, rendering hackers unable to access your sensitive data.
- Firewalls – Firewalls provide an extra layer of protection on your computer or network, preventing an outside user from accessing your data. Although you can choose to install a firewall as both hardware or software, computers containing a modern operating system (such as Windows 10) are programmed with their own firewall security.
- Data Backup – Sometimes preventing an unwanted situation means that you have to actually develop a contingency plan if that situation occurs. Therefore, if your business does become a victim of a data breach, make sure you have installed a helpful data backup system to recover any lost or compromised information.
- Encryption Software – An encryption software firmly protects your sensitive data, even from savvy hackers. Installing an encryption software can keep employee records, customer information, and important financial statements out of the hands of hackers.
- Two-Step Authentication – A worst case scenario could be a hacker realizing a password to your network or other important system. To prevent this outcome, contact a cybersecurity firm to inquire about setting up a two-step authentication program that will deter hackers from accessing your data.
Should I Purchase Cybersecurity Insurance?
It’s no secret that many businesses overlook the importance of cybersecurity insurance. According to Hiscox, an insurance company, only 21% of small businesses possess cybersecurity insurance, while 52% have indicated that they have no interest or intention of acquiring any coverage.
Unfortunately, a general liability insurance policy won’t reimburse any losses associated with a data breach, or any form of cyber attack for that matter. Therefore, it’s important to purchase cybersecurity insurance to receive coverage if your business is affected.
What Are Other Ways I Can Keep My Business Safe?
Taking an all-out approach to eliminate any chances of a cyber attack is the best solution to keeping your data and assets under your control. By following these safety tips, you can adequately protect your business from any incoming attack.
- Regularly Update Your Software – Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities in existing software. Hence, if you possess any outdated software, you are essentially rendering yourself vulnerable
- Educate Your Employees – To prevent the occurence of a cyber attack, educate your employees on how they can recognize the signals of a data breach, and how they can stay safe while using the company’s systems.
- Implement Structural Safety Procedures – Without a adequate procedures in place, your business could be susceptible to a cyber attack, even if you are solely committed to the cybersecurity of your business. You can create and implement your own structural safety procedures by creating a culture of security in your business. You can start by enforcing the creation of strong passwords, encouraging your employees to report suspicious emails, and regularly scheduling meetings to discuss the latest security protocols.
- Run Periodic Drills – Regardless of how well you plan for a potential cyber attack, if your team isn’t aware of how to act during this incident, you could set your business up for failure. Try setting up periodic incident response drills to instruct your employees of how to respond to a potential cyber attack.
Overall, having a security-first mindset is key to preventing the outcome of a massive cyber attack. As a business owner, you are required to maintain the security of all of your business’ data and assets. By following this guide, you can effectively place these items firmly in your control.
COMHOME Technology Solutions was founded in 2012 with the goal of showing businesses how to realize their maximum potential by leveraging the advantages provided by today’s technology. For over 5 years we have been providing industry leading technology solutions for businesses and partners of all sizes & scope. Contact Us today to learn more.