Cyber attacks are on the rise and small businesses are the prime target. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2017 State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses report, 61% of small businesses experienced a cyber attack in the past 12 months.
Why are small businesses such big targets for cyber criminals? What can you do to protect your business? Here are 6 steps you can take today.
Small businesses have 3 things cyber criminals love:
1. Personal Information
2. Bank Accounts
3. Lax cyber security protection
The good news is there are simple steps you can take today to make yourself less of a target.
- Install a network security device: The first step in preventing cyber attackers is to put a wall between your computer and the outside world. When looking for a network security device, look for things like a firewall, intrusion detection and prevention, VPN access, dual-WAN ports, and built-in Wi-Fi. The goal here is to make your internal network a hard target so that cyber criminals look elsewhere.
- Install antivirus/antimalware software: The world of malware development is complex and changes at a lightening quick pace. From stealing your valuable information to turning your computers into cyber slaves, the attack vectors are more numerous than can be counted. Free programs like Windows Defender do a decent job of providing protection but the value you get from a paid program is worth the cost. Webroot, ESET, and BitDefender are good choices. Beware of the biggest brands like Symantec and McAfee as they often are heavy resource users and will slow down your computer
- Turn on automatic software updates: Many cyber criminals use vulnerabilities found in common software like Windows, MacOS, Adobe Flash, and others to gain a foothold on your computer. Software companies respond to these vulnerabilities with updates to the software that patch the holes. Make sure you turn on the automatic software updates to protect your computer against known threats. Note that these updates will sometimes require a computer reboot. Occasionally, the updates can create unforeseen errors. Still, it is better to deal with those inconveniences than to become a victim of cyber criminals.
- Make sure you have backup and recovery: The greatest security measure you can take is making sure you have working backups with the ability to restore lost data or systems. Whether as a result of user error or malicious ransomware, the ability to restore your data from a recent backup can mean the difference between a hiccup in your day and a complete loss of your business. The backups need to be taken often and automatically sent offsite. Also, be sure to test the recovery of your backups. There is no worse feeling than trying to restore your data after a data loss, only to learn the backups weren’t working. This goes for your email too. While Microsoft, Google, and other email providers sometime provide backup, you are often backing up their shortcomings as well. A third-party backup provides you the greatest level of protection if you have important emails.
- Get anti-phishing protection and educate yourself: The most common attack vector of today’s cyber criminal is to trick you into giving up your user name and password. Called “phishing”, thieves build elaborate and quite convincing emails and websites that look legitimate. Get anti-phishing protection on your email service and educate yourself on identifying phishing attempts so you can learn how to avoid phishing schemes in the future.
- Use password management software: We’ve all done it. We use the same password over and over because trying to remember 100 different passwords, all with high level of complexity is nearly impossible. Cyber criminals use that to their advantage. One breach of passwords by any online service can expose every online service you use, including your bank. There are several good choices out there including Dashlane, LastPass, or 1Password.
Protecting your business from cyber criminals is a must in today’s technology driven world. Taking the six steps above will make you a hard target and give you a greater level of security for your data and your business.