Partner Content Contribution: Special thanks to our managed IT services partner, Trox Tech, for their help in crafting this article.
Cybersecurity is the new frontier for small businesses. In recent years, cyberattacks have grown in frequency and sophistication.
An attack is no longer just a risk of a laptop being stolen or a desktop computer getting hacked. Hackers are now breaking into networks to steal data and money.
For instance, in early 2014, hackers stole 100 terabytes of company data from Sony Pictures through an email phishing scam including emails, newly released films, and financial data all adding up to around $100 million lost.
Phishing is a type of cyberattack in which a hacker impersonates a trustworthy entity (like a bank) and requests sensitive information, such as login details or PIN codes. Thus, it is no longer enough to simply protect your computers with virus software and firewalls.
The small business world will continue to see more cyberattacks in the coming years. To protect your digital assets and sensitive personal information, you should implement robust cybersecurity practices sooner rather than later.
Types of Cybersecurity Threats
There are many different types of cybersecurity risks other than phishing, such as malware, ransomware, denial-of-service attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks, social engineering, and insider threats, all of which could lead to data breaches.
The threats and risks change frequently, which is why it is important for companies to stay up to date and educated on the latest cybersecurity issues.
Below, you will find descriptions of five of the most common types of cybersecurity risks.
- Malware: Also called “malicious software,” describes any malicious program or code that’s harmful to systems.
- Ransomware: A malicious software made to block access to a computer system until a certain sum of money is paid to the attacker.
- Denial-of-Service Attack (DoS Attack): A cyberattack in which the perpetrator seeks to overload a machine or network to make it unavailable for its users by temporarily or permanently interrupting the services of a host connected to a network.
- Man-in-the-Middle Attack: A cyberattack where the attacker secretly intercepts and possibly alters conversations between two parties who believe that they are directly communicating with each other.
- Social Engineering: The usage of deception, usually not online, to trick an individual into willingly revealing their own confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.
Why Are There So Many Cyber Security Risks?
Since the early days of the internet, companies have prioritized protecting their data, but as the internet evolved from a closed network used by governments and universities to a global network connecting people, companies, and devices around the world, so too did the threats.
A growing number of connected devices is one factor.
In 2017, researchers estimated that there were more than 8 billion internet-connected devices in use globally. As the internet and connected devices continue to grow, so too will cybersecurity risks.
However, a second factor is also playing a role in the growing number of cyber risks: the growing number of cyberattacks.
How Can I Protect My Business Against Cyber Breaches?
As the number of cyber risks has grown, businesses have begun to take cyber security more seriously. The Global State of Information Security Survey (GSISS) has seen a steady increase in the percentage of businesses that have a chief information security officer (CISO) since it was first conducted in 2010, with more than 80% of companies having a CISO in 2018.
Most CISOs will tell you that having the right cybersecurity strategy is the first step toward protecting your business. Next, make sure that you have the appropriate cybersecurity infrastructure in place.
What Does Good Cybersecurity Look Like?
Cybersecurity best practices include using a multi-layered defense strategy that includes prevention, detection, and response. Each layer plays an important role in keeping data safe and protecting against cyberattacks.
- Prevention: Using various technologies and practices, prevention software aims to set up defenses in a computer or network to prevent an attack from happening in the first place by making the system difficult to access for any unauthorized users.
- Detection: Using tools and technologies to detect when suspicious activity is found on the network. With proper detection software, a system should be able to respond quickly to any incoming attacks before they are able to impact the business.
- Response: Having a plan in place to respond to data breaches and other threats quickly and effectively. If all else fails to keep the threat out of the system, the next best option is to have your system be able to isolate and extract the faulty data as quickly as possible.
Safeguard Your Company With Strong Cybersecurity Practices
One of the best ways to protect your company from hackers is simply to stay vigilant. Keep up to date with the latest cybersecurity threats and software patches to plug any holes in your security protocol.
You should also keep a close eye on all devices connected to your network to make sure they have up-to-date software and aren’t harboring viruses.
Make sure employees are keeping their devices clean and that they’re not downloading questionable apps that could put your network at risk.
It’s also important to have a plan in place for what to do if your company does get hacked. Make sure all employees know who to report any suspected breaches, so the damage can be contained as quickly as possible.
Don’t Store Passwords on Devices or in Cloud Storage
If you’re storing passwords for online banking or other online accounts, make sure you’re not saving them in a digital file or in the cloud.
Many people tend to store passwords on their computers or in their cloud storage accounts (like Google Drive or Dropbox). This practice is incredibly dangerous and gives hackers easy access to your information.
Instead, manually type in passwords or use a secure password manager like LastPass or 1Password to save your login information securely.
Promote a Culture of Cybersecurity Awareness Among Employees
Educate your employees on the importance of cybersecurity by hosting cybersecurity awareness seminars.
Make sure all employees—including senior management team—are familiar with the latest cybersecurity threats and the best ways to protect against these threats.
It’s also important to check that your IT team has the necessary cybersecurity tools to protect your company from hackers. Make sure they’re using updated antivirus software and malware protection to safeguard your network from viruses and hackers.
Learning Management Systems (LSMs) teach users various tactics to protect themselves to reduce their cyber risk. Educating employees in this way is efficient and effective, as it is a hub that can house all cyber security related knowledge for further use educating others.
4 Ways LSMs Can Help Reduce Cyber Risk for Companies
- Data Governance: establishing policies, procedures, and controls for managing data and its lifecycle. This includes things like data security, classification and labeling, data retention, data ownership, data sharing, data archiving, data destruction, and regulatory compliance.
- Risk Management: understanding and managing the risks related to the data and technology used by the company. It also includes understanding and managing the risk related to the software and services that the financial advisor uses.
- Cyber Insurance: protecting against data breaches by purchasing insurance to cover costs resulting from a cyber-attack or data breach. Cyber insurance covers damages such as costs associated with the repair and replacement of hacked systems, identity theft monitoring services, regulatory fines, reputational damage, etc.
- Data Encryption: protecting data by making it unreadable and unusable to anyone who doesn’t have the key. It’s important to note that encryption doesn’t prevent a breach from happening; it just helps make the data unreadable to hackers.
Install Advanced Malware Detection Software and Firewalls
Malware detection software scans your computer for viruses and other malicious software, but it doesn’t actually block the software from entering your computer.
On the other hand, malware protection software blocks malicious software from entering your computer and deleting it once it’s detected.
Firewalls are another important tool in the cybersecurity arsenal. Firewalls prevent hackers from accessing your network by blocking any suspicious or unapproved connections.
You should install firewalls on all devices connected to your network, including computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Implement Two-Factor Authentication For All Accounts
The best way to prevent hackers from stealing your login details is to implement two-factor authentication.
Many banks and financial services already offer this feature, so make sure you enable it for your accounts. Two-factor authentication uses a combination of two different methods to authenticate login attempts.
The most common authentication methods are something you know (a password), something you have (a fingerprint scanner), and somewhere you are (location).
Final Thoughts on Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
Cybersecurity is a critical part of any business’s operations. With more cyberattacks expected in the coming years, it’s crucial that you safeguard your company by implementing strong cybersecurity practices.
Start by safeguarding your network with malware detection software and firewalls. Don’t store login details on devices or in cloud storage; instead, manually type in login information. Finally, implement two-factor authentication for all accounts to protect them from hackers.
Thanks again to our managed IT services partner, Trox Tech, for their help in putting this article together. Please reach out to Rich Barakat (email@example.com) with any questions or comments.