Cybersecurity has evolved significantly over the past decade. Gone are the days when only large scale enterprises became the target of such attacks. Today, even mid-size businesses and small businesses are not safe. Previously cybersecurity attacks were conducted by rogue individuals and young adults but today, they are conducted by organized groups of hackers and cybercriminals.
Apart from hitting low profile targets such as small businesses, cybercriminals are now focusing their attention more on sensitive systems such as health care and power grids as well. They are also targeting the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain which is people.
Kevin Mitnick, CEO and chief of White Hat Hacker sheds light on why businesses fall victim to cybersecurity attacks when he said, “Companies spend millions of dollars on firewalls and secure access devices and this money goes to waste because none of these measures addresses the weakest link in the security chain: the people who use, administer and operate the computer systems. ”
In this article, you will learn about six things every small and mid-size business should know.
If your small and mid-size business wants to protect itself from data breaches and cyber-attacks, it is important to have an IT policy. Prepare a comprehensive document that covers all the bases and make it easy to read and understand for your employees. Your IT policy should cover everything from password policy, social media guidelines, network security, data protection, disaster recovery and incident response mechanism to name just a few. In order to minimize damage and mitigate risks, you need to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity and be prepared for cyber attacks.
Here are eight elements of the IT security policy that you should focus on.
● Have a purpose
● Target audience
● Information security objectives
● Access Control
● Data classifications
● Support and operations
Why do you want to create an IT policy? Clearly highlight the purpose of the policy and highlight the security objectives. Who you are creating the policy for? Is it your employees, vendors or partners? Your IT policy should also define roles and lay down the access control policies. Classify data into different categories as it makes it easy to manage.
The most common types of attacks launched against small businesses are phishing attacks. In these social engineering attacks, a hacker poses to be one of your suppliers or co-workers and tricks you into sharing your sensitive details with them. Most cyber-attacks that affect businesses begin with phishing.
As a business, you need to make your employees understand the real threats of phishing emails so they don’t fall prey to such treachery from cybercriminals. Tell them about the warning signs and encourage them to raise the red flag as soon as they see any of those warning signs. Always check the sender detail and keep an eye out for spelling errors and special characters in email addresses.
According to cybersecurity statistics:
● The average cost of cybercrime for each company increased by 12% from $11.7 million to $13 million.
● The average cost of a malware attack is $2.6 million
● The average cost of a data breach is $3.92 million
● The average cost of a ransomware attack is $133,000
● The average cost of every record stolen is $150
Prevention is better than cure. You might have heard it from a medical practitioner but that also holds true in the case of cybersecurity. Businesses need to understand that the cost of preventing a cyber attack is much lower than the actual cost of damages caused due to cyber attack. Apart from the usual antivirus, install a firewall to ensure only legitimate traffic enters your network. Make sure you keep your antivirus and other security programs up to date otherwise, it won’t be able to protect you from zero-day attacks. Make it difficult for cybercriminals to get access to your sensitive data by following best cybersecurity practices.
Many small to midsize businesses suffer because they rarely back up their data. When they come under a cybersecurity attack, they have nothing to fall back on and are at the mercy of hackers and criminals. Where would your business stand if you end up losing your most sensitive business data? What if you are unable to access some critical business data? With ransomware attacks becoming more and more common, businesses have no choice but to back up their data. You can use a hybrid approach and migrate some of your data to the cloud or DDoS protected servers for added security.
The easiest way to make it tough for hackers to get access to your data is to implement two-factor authentication. Yes, it might be a little inconvenient for your employees as they have to go through an extra step to access their emails but it also makes it more secure. This will add an extra layer of security and ensure that hackers won’t be able to access your sensitive data even if they guess your password. It is a small compromise your employees have to make for the greater good of your business and small businesses should convey that to their employees. Force your employees to use strong passwords with a combination of alphanumeric and special characters.
Last but certainly not least is to test the strength of your security systems. You can hire an ethical hacker or a cybersecurity professional to attack your system. This will help you identify the loopholes in your cybersecurity systems and fix those vulnerabilities before hackers can exploit them. By testing your security systems, you can also train your employees regarding phishing attacks. This will increase awareness and minimize the risk of your employees falling prey to social engineering attacks. Test the strength of your security systems twice a year.
How do you protect your small and midsize business from cybersecurity attacks? Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below.