The idea that only large companies or governments are attacked by hackers is a misconception. The latest studies show that 22% of small businesses were attacked cybernetically in 2020. Most hackers are opportunists. Large companies have a much larger budget more complicated to access. Small businesses on the other hand are the perfect target for hackers.
The positive part is that investing in cybersecurity protection strategies will help keep hackers away from your business.
Impacts of cyberattacks on small businesses:
A cyber-attack can have a great impact on a small business. In fact, 60% of the small businesses that suffered an attack closed their doors within 6 months after. Some consequences of a cyber-attack on your business might be:
- Financial losses – because they have accessed your accounts.
- Financial losses – because you must halt core business operations while addressing other impacts, and while fixing your security.
- Upfront costs to security experts to help secure your IT infrastructure in the short term.
- Losing your database/s.
- Damage to your reputation by compromising your customer data, forcing you to disclaim your vulnerabilities and failings to protect their data.
Cyber Security Solutions for Small Businesses
Some solutions that can improve your security are:
Identify your vulnerabilities
Determine what your vulnerabilities are in order to know where to focus. Identify the most important data your company keeps. that might be your client database, your intellectual property, inventory, or financial information, etc.
Analyze your processes
Look at your workflows, including yours and that of your staff. Think about how you collect your information, where you store it, and how you delete that data. List all the points through which this data travels and each point where it could be leaked or stolen.
Analyze the consequences
Consider the results of a cybersecurity breach for you, your employees, your customers, and your partners. This is more to understand the risk.
Protect your equipment and devices
The second question is… Where do you store this data? The computers, mobiles, tablets, and other devices likely contain or access that important information. However, since these devices are connected to the Internet and a local network, they are vulnerable to attack.
Here are our guidelines to improve your security across the entire spectrum of your company’s IT systems.
Keep your software updated
A simple and safe way to keep your equipment safe is to regularly update the software of the systems you use.
Microsoft and other software companies are always looking for vulnerabilities in their software. When they find one, they release an update that fixes it for their users. Make sure you download these updates whenever they are released.
Protect yourself from viruses
Install anti-virus software on all computers in the office. Antivirus programs scan incoming email messages, as well as all files on your computer, and delete or quarantine any viruses that are found. Hackers are always creating new viruses, so you should update your antivirus frequently.
Accessing the Internet using a VPN is also a security enhancement. VPNs make tracking your computer or decrypting your data extremely difficult for hackers. A good VPN provider will also send you a security warning when you try to access suspicious URLs.
Set up a firewall
Most likely, your office devices are connected to a broadband Internet connection that is always active. Hackers are always probing these networks and looking for vulnerabilities to gain access to your computers.
Installing a firewall is the best way to avoid hackers. Firewalls allowing only authorized traffic into your network. A good firewall examines every packet of data that enters your network, makes sure it is legitimate, and filters out packets that it considers suspicious. Installing a firewall is a complicated process that should only be done by a qualified professional. This makes your job easier; all you need to do is talk to your system administrator and make sure your network is protected.
Precautions for laptops and mobiles
Laptops and mobiles are easy to access, as they are intended to be used outside the office. The risk information on these devices is high. Because you use these devices on public networks. We recommend a series of measures to protect your data; including using strong passwords and backing up data.
You must be prepared for a company mobile to be stolen or lost. If you use a cloud solution, look at the mobile device management features of your provider. The main cloud computing providers allow you to delete the account of a device that is lost.
Protect your data
No matter what type of business you run, your data is the core of the business. Without your customers’ contact information, your inventory, confidential information, and everything else, your business simply won’t be able to operate. Your data can be lost in a thousand ways: hardware can be damaged or broken, hackers can break into your system and take over, or you can suffer a natural disaster. Your objective, therefore, should be to insure yourself against a possible data loss by taking precautions against the worst consequences that it would have.
Recently we have begun the process of moving our customers into WisePay, a third party payment provider that will also give our customers historical easy access to their invoices and accounting with us, as well as plenty of payment options. Such a solution requires a bit of legwork to bring customers on board, but it’s certainly safer and potentially time-saving in the long run. Once up and running, it’ll take a load off the accounts team too.
Backups and backups
There are two types of backups. The first is a full backup of all the selected data, saved on another device or transferred to a different medium. The other is a gradual backup, which means adding new data to an existing backup.
The simplest and most efficient method is to combine the two. Perform a full backup periodically and a gradual backup every day in between. Another option is to do a full backup every night after business hours. It is crucial to check that your backups work and to understand how to restore the data.
There are many ways to back up your data. You can store them on a physical device such as a USB drive or secondary hard drive or store them in a shared folder on your network; you should also keep backups in a secure offsite location.
Unfortunately, storing your data in a specific physical location will not help you if a natural disaster or theft occurs there. The safest thing is to invest in a backup system in the cloud. At KeyTech we have a SAS Backup Service that allowing cloud-based collaboration with total security.
Encrypt your information
Most small businesses store their information in a cloud. Some can be a platform like SAAS (Software as a Service) or in a Storage System like Dropbox. When choosing where to store your business information you must examine its security measures.
There are measures to ensure that your data is even more secure in a cloud. For example, encrypt your data. Several programs can help you do this.
Protect your passwords
The most common way to authenticate the identity of whoever accesses your network or your important data is through a password. Unlike other high-tech authentication systems like smart cards, fingerprint scanners, or iris recognition, passwords are useful because they cost nothing and are easy to use. However, they are always susceptible to brute force attacks.
Hackers have developed sophisticated automated tools that allow them to crack simple passwords in a matter of minutes. Another way to access your passwords is to use fraudulent methods like phishing. Pishing is a method in which hackers pose as an official entity (for example Google or Amazon) to trick people into giving them their passwords. It is important that you keep updating your passwords, that you do not keep them in sight, and that you try to create a strong password that is not easily accessible. Creating a stronger password is not that difficult. Use a password tool like this one, which tells you how secure your password is and how long it would take a hacker to crack it.
Set access levels and permissions
You must take steps to restrict access to your System. For example, determine access levels and only give people access to what they need, such as installing software – the top level being your systems administrator.
If you’re using Windows, you can assign different permission levels to users based on their roles within the company, and if a staff member is absent for a long period or has left the company, remove their access and permissions as soon as possible.
Be careful when browsing the Internet
When you and your staff surf the Internet, activities are tracked in various subtle and unnoticeable ways. The activity is usually recorded by third parties without any consent. Your employees could browse dangerous web pages that steal your company information. Your personal or business information could be compromised if it is entered on web pages through an unencrypted connection. Set a web use policy that restricts web browsing for personal purposes. Using a good firewall will also help reduce this risk.
Protect confidential information created by remote workers
Many small businesses work with freelancers who work remotely. Remote workers can pose a risk to your cybersecurity. You must know that the networks they use for their work are secure. For example, they can log into your office network and work from there, using remote tools such as Windows’ remote desktop connection feature.
Employees can leave your business vulnerable to an attack. Research shows that 43 percent of data loss stems from internal employees who either maliciously or carelessly give cybercriminals access to your networks.
Many scenarios could result in employee-initiated attacks. These can be an employee losing a work tablet or giving away login credentials. They can also include opening fraudulent emails, which deploys viruses on the network.
To protect against threats from within, invest in cybersecurity training for your employees. Educate them what they should do if they get for example a suspicious email.
It is important to encourage a culture of cybersecurity within your company since a single breach could cost your company millions. It should also be a priority for all departments within your organization, not just IT, although your IT experts must be given responsibility and authority to identify and minimize risk. When everyone takes cybersecurity seriously together, you’ll have a much higher chance of success.
Investing in Cyberseciruty
Cybersecurity is a preventative strategy: The fact is, all small businesses face a relatively high risk of being attacked. But even with a modest investment in defenses, you should be able to avoid and/or minimize most attacks in 2021 and keep your business moving on up as it should be.