Keeping cyberattacks at bay is a must for any business, no matter the size. Even new small businesses can be targeted by hackers and cyber-terrorists. In fact, some go after small businesses specifically because they believe these new companies won’t have strong defenses in place. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to prevent cyberattacks or at least limit the amount of damage they can do. By following these tips, you’ll be able to protect your data and your network from attacks.
Know Potential Threats
Where might cyberattacks come from? If you understand what areas of your company are vulnerable and what potential threats may exist, you’ll be better able to prepare defenses. These threats could come from a number of places, even from within your company. Hackers and malware are certainly the most well-known potential threats you must prepare for, but you also have to consider disgruntled employees, corporate espionage, and even loyal employees who make mistakes.
Encrypt Your Information
Never leave any sensitive information unencrypted. If that data were to be stolen, the hacker wouldn’t have to do anything to make use of it — they would simply have customer’s private information, employee’s social security numbers, or your company’s financial data. Anything that could be considered private information, whether it’s yours, your employees’, or your customers’, should be heavily encrypted.
Train Your Employees
An employee who opens a phishing email clicks a scam link or downloads an unauthorized program can be just as dangerous as a hacker attempting to infiltrate your system. You need to make certain that your employees understand why cyberattacks are so dangerous and how they can assist in preventing them. Your employees need to know more than simply “use a strong password.” Many people know that. You need to train them to recognize phishing attempts, social media scams, and more.
This includes scams and attacks that happen outside of the company, too. If an employee falls victim to a phishing scam at home, it could compromise their work security, too. They may have used the same password for all of their accounts or have the same secret questions set up for account recovery. Just because an employee is hacked off the clock doesn’t mean it won’t have consequences for you.
Keep Up with the News
If another company makes the news for being hacked, take note of what happened and how they’re handling it. It’s important to know what tactics cybercriminals are using against other businesses so you can look at ways of defending against those methods. What information were the hackers after, and do you keep similar data? If yes, you need to take steps to make certain that data is protected. Knowing what cyber terrorists are after and how they’re going about stealing that information can be very helpful in preventing an attack on your system.
Prioritize Data Protection
It’s easy to say “protect all of your data,” but it’s much harder to actually implement plans to do so when you have collected a huge amount of information. Some companies gather data from thousands of customers every day, creating a very large database. When this database is accessed by multiple employees from multiple locations using a variety of devices, protecting it becomes a very difficult task.
This is why you need to prioritize your information. What data is the most sensitive or would damage your company the most if it were to be lost? Determine this and protect that information first. Limit access to only those employees who need it, and delete any of this data once it no longer serves a purpose. Implementing IT security intelligence can help you counter attacks on your vital data by ensuring that it’s as secure as you can make it.
Consider an Insurance Policy
Many insurance companies are now offering cybercrime insurance. It’s certainly worth looking into, especially if a cyberattack could lead to your company going bankrupt. Depending on what data was stolen and what measures you have to take to reassure your customers, employees, and investors, you could spend thousands of dollars. For smaller businesses, this could be enough to shut them down. Investing in a cybersecurity insurance policy that covers damage done by viruses, malware, and hackers could save your company or, at the very least, decrease the amount of money you lose.
Install Anti-Malware Tools
There are a number of anti-malware and antivirus tools out there that you should take advantage of. While most people do have antivirus software and firewalls installed, these aren’t the only tools you can take advantage of. For example, there are toolbars designed to identify and prevent phishing scams. These toolbars scan each website you visit and will alert you if the site has been reported as a potential phishing scam. This can help prevent employees from accidentally causing a data breach.
Make Use of Two-Factor Authentication
Many businesses have moved from a simple password to a two-factor authentication method. This process adds a second step to logging in or accessing specific data. Most two-factor authentication systems make use of smartphones. The employee enters their password and the system then sends a second password or code to their phone. They have to enter this code within a few minutes in order to access the system, and the code is randomly created every time. It provides much stronger protection against hackers, especially if employees don’t regularly change passwords or use the same password for everything.
Perform Risk Assessments Regularly
A risk assessment involves carefully examining your cybersecurity methods to identify weak points. You should do this regularly to determine what areas you need to update or improve upon. Your risk assessment should take into account any new methods hackers are using, which is why it’s important to keep up with the news. While having your internal IT team perform risk assessments regularly is good, they may be too familiar with your system to truly see the weak areas. This is why it’s often useful to hire an independent risk assessment specialist to come in and go over your entire system. They may spot weak points that you couldn’t.
These are just a few tips that will help you protect your business from cyberattacks. While it’s important to remember that cybersecurity is a changing field and that you always need to be on alert for new ways of protecting yourself, implementing these processes and policies can help reduce the chance that you fall victim to a cyberterrorist.