How to Secure Your Small Business from Cyber ThreatsVanessa Venugopal
Cybersecurity is often overlooked by a startup or small business, unlike large enterprises. Even though big corporations experience attacks, they always have a plan and can manage the problem as quickly as possible. However, for small enterprises, it’s different.
Cybercriminals attack small online businesses because they lack protection. The number of cyber breaches last year grew to 424%, it’s five times higher than the previous year. The reason for this increase is because most small enterprise owners think that their business is irrelevant, that no one would be interested in it. But cybercriminals target them because they lack security and plan, which makes them vulnerable to attacks.
But micro-business owners don’t have to worry because there are ways to protect their business from threats. Before we look at ways how to protect your business, let’s get to know what are the common threats experienced by small enterprises, so we can focus on protecting from these threats.
Top 5 Cyber Threats Encountered by Small Enterprises
Phishing is a common online threat experienced by small businesses and on a personal level too. It’s a type of social engineering that can steal data from the user. Attackers will pretend to be a legitimate entity where the victim will click on the link. The victim can open a link coming from an email, instant message, or text message.
The malicious link provided by the attackers could either lead to the installation of malware, ransomware attack or steal sensitive information. When your business becomes a victim, it could lead to severe financial loss, and it could affect your brand’s reputation and your consumer’s trust.
The cost of phishing attacks depends on the amount of data loss and how long it takes to recover from an attack. Sometimes it’s even difficult to recover from phishing attacks.
Malware is the second most common threat encountered by businesses. It’s comprised of various malicious codes that are used by attackers to destroy a device, gain access to a network, or even steal data.
You can get malware from downloading files or apps that are unsafe, clicking on links from spam emails, and connecting to devices that are infected.
For small businesses, malware can cause extensive damage not only by interrupting the workflow but by causing an enormous amount of expense to repair the device and fix the issue.
One common practice that could lead to malware attacks is the use of employees’ own devices. Using personal devices are more at risk of malicious attacks.
Using various passwords is common in many businesses. There are multiple accounts that employees have to manage to gain access to data and other sensitive information.
The use of uncomplicated or weak passwords is usual among employees. This practice threatens organizations and businesses as hackers would find it easy to guess. Another common practice that can compromise all the data in multiple accounts is the use of the same password on all accounts.
Every year, thousands of businesses are attacked by ransomware. It is the most lucrative form of threat because many businesses give in to this threat and don’t have a backup plan.
Ransomware happens by encrypting a company’s data and asking for a certain amount to unlock the data. Sometimes businesses pay the ransom, which often leads to losing a large sum of money.
Ransomware is often derived from downloading phishing or spam emails that contain malicious links or files.
Insider attacks can happen intentionally or unintentionally. It could be caused by employees who accidentally clicked on a malicious link. Sometimes, former or current employees, contractors, or associates do it as an act of revenge. This attack can also lead to loss of data.
Now that you have an idea what are the common threats your business might face, you can go on and find ways to secure your data. You mustn’t focus on one way to protect your business. Instead, add layers of protection to ensure that your business will be 99% secure, or at least you are ready whenever an attack occurs.
How to Secure Your Small Business
Secure Hosting Services
If you have a website, you have to get a secure web hosting service. It’s a simple way to protect your customers, your data, and your business in general.
Remember to choose a hosting company that is PCI compliant. Choosing a reliable web hosting will secure all websites that have payment and checkout processes. It should also offer an SSL certificate to make sure that the data between you and your customers are encrypted.
Practice Email Safety
Email is a way threats can get to infect your device or steal your data. In a day, 55% of emails we received are spam. It means that on a global scale, there are about 107 billion spam emails per day. That’s a lot to look after.
You and your employees can avoid downloading a malicious app or file into your devices when safe email practices are implemented. You have to inform your employees that they shouldn’t use the business email address when subscribing to anything not related to work. In addition, practice being cautious of emails sent with links or clicking on unknown links on social media or other websites. Use antispam software to get rid of unwanted emails and to also scan every content, like files and links, on your email.
Create a Strong Password
Using a weak password is one reason hackers can access your business. The use of strong and unique passwords can make a huge change. A strong password is made of upper and lower case letters, special symbols, numbers, and should be something not personal.
Another thing to consider is to avoid using the same passwords on other accounts, no password sharing, and require your employees to change their password if a breach occurs or every 30, 60, or 90 days. Also, adding two-factor authentication can strengthen your accounts.
Always Stay Updated
Outdated software can be a gateway for hackers. That’s why it is crucial to make it a habit to update every software in your device, plugins on your website, and everything that requires it. If you want to avoid forgetting about updating your software frequently, you can set an auto-update on each software.
Use a VPN
Running your own business or online business means you can work anywhere you want. But the risk of working anywhere is the use of unsafe Wi-Fi connection. Hackers can use software to monitor traffic and steal login credentials when a network connection is unsafe.
If you want to work anywhere, using a Virtual Private Network or VPN is needed. VPN will encrypt your connection and all the traffic that goes in and out of your network. Get your business a VPN to start securing your connection.
Back up Your Files Frequently
It should be a habit of you and your team to back up files regularly. Important files should be back up a minimum of once a week, or if you want, you can do it once every 24 hours. Regular backups can protect your data and website.
Whenever your data or device has been compromised, or when a ransomware attack occurs, it would be easy for you to recover them anytime you want. And, you don’t have to worry about paying an immense amount of money to get it back.
You can either choose to back up your files on a cloud or off-site, but it’s better if you choose both to be safe.
Get a Firewall
A firewall is a network security system that will monitor all the incoming and outgoing traffic on your website. It can block traffic that is not based on the set of security rules. It protects your internal networks and devices from threats.
Educate Your Employees
It is vital to implement training on cybersecurity measures for your employees. Some cyber-attacks can be due to employee negligence or unawareness. Educate your employees or enroll them in cybersecurity workshops for them to know what to do and how to avoid compromising your business.
Internet Security and Antivirus Software
You need to get the best internet security and antivirus software to ensure the protection of your work devices. With this software, it can scan for threats and warn you if there are existing or incoming ones. You can choose which software can give you the protection you need for your business. There are hundreds of them you can find online, but here are a few brands you might want to try: Kaspersky, McAfee, and Bitdefender.
Protecting your business, the data, your employees, and customers must not be placed at the end of your list. It should always be one of the major concerns you should focus on. Online threats are daunting, and when you are the target, it’s not only about losing money but losing your customers and your entire business.
Don’t risk what you have built. Focus on educating yourself, your employees, and get the protection you need to bring you peace of mind and growth to your business.