How to Protect Your Business from Cyber Attacks

Protect your small business from cyber attacks

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Cybersecurity is an integral part of your small business operations which requires great consideration. Failing to put the right measures in place will lead to high costs, especially in this digital age.

Your small business online presence makes up the bulk of your business reputation. Hence, you should do all it takes to seize and maintain control of your digital footprint.

This is a comprehensive guide on how you can ward off online threats from your business’s web presence.

What are Online Threats?

Online threats are malicious attacks that may occur as a result of internet use. Threats like these come in to play when users are engaged in online business (or personal) activity.

When this occurs, it has a huge negative impact on your business growth. Depending on the type of threat your business is exposed to, you might end up taking a few or multiple steps backward.

Types of Cyber Attacks

There are different kinds of online threats that can affect a small business. Let’s look at the major ones;

  1. Phishing Attacks
  2. Malware attacks
  3. Ransomware
  4. Weak passwords
  5. Insider Threats
  6. Spyware
  • Phishing Attacks

This form of attack is one in which an individual or group of individuals, pretends to be a trusted entity to get personal data. In most cases, a text message or email is sent to unsuspecting individuals or businesses. The content of these messages is usually a request for confidential information. Examples are; bank details, ATM card details, login details, and various other personal data.

For instance, you get an email from your supposed bank asking you to send your ATM card details for a certain verification or upgrade. This shouldn’t be the case as banks or other financial institutions will never request such.

Also, phishing attacks may come in form of messages with certain links. The idea is that once you click these links, they gain access to your data and this can lead to an attack. Ensure that you do not give out personal and confidential details to anyone without proper verification of the authenticity of such a person.

It is also very important to be mindful of links and websites you visit.

  • Malware Attacks

The malware attack is another threat that small businesses encounter often. The most popular example under this type is viruses.

Most of these threats are present in harmful websites and visiting or downloading from these sites might introduce these attacks. These attacks damage devices and this might cause a loss or setback for any small business as they have to either repair or replace the damaged devices.

  • Ransomware

Just like the name implies, this kind of attack is one in which access to a business’s important data is gotten and a ransom is required by the attackers before the data is released to the company.

This attack can be harmful to small businesses because it leads to either a loss of data, the amount paid as ransom or sometimes both.

  • Weak Passwords

It’s no news that a weak password can be a threat to any business or individual. When a password is weak, it might give them opportunities to outsiders to gain access to important and possibly confidential information.

Weak passwords can lead to loss of money, loss of important data, and sometimes a situation where confidential business information goes public. Two-way authentication is a good way to prevent attacks caused by weak passwords. Also, biometric verifications should be encouraged amongst employees.

  • Insider Threats

These are cyber-attacks that are carried out by employees or individuals who are part of the business operations.

Attacks from insiders are common and hence should not be overlooked. Humans are susceptible to emotional and financial pressures which influence the behavior of employees to become threats. Threats from users can be reduced by properly monitoring employee activity. You should also regularly monitor the exchange of information between employees within the organization as well as information that is sent to outsiders.

  • Spyware

This attack works by downloading into your computer. Once downloaded, there is unlimited access to your computer and all its data.

The software can open files, delete files or data and even change your password.  Like the name implies, the software can spy on the activities of a business.

Effects Of Cyber Attacks

Cyber attacks are becoming more harmful and should be prevented at all costs. This is why Cybersecurity for Small Businesses should be prioritized. The attacks from online threats are dangerous and can affect the growth and survival of a small business. Below are some effects of cyber-attacks on small businesses.

  1. Possession of Critical Data

When a company’s system is hacked or attacked, the personal information of such a business is automatically accessed by a third party. Access to this confidential information may pose a big threat.

Company information can include account details, passwords, or login credentials to other systems, or even company secrets that should be known to only insiders. Possession of these data by an outsider leaves the business at a disadvantage. This is because the information can be used against the company or can be sold to competitors. Also, it can lead to loss of funds if account details are discovered.

  • Loss of Data

Cyber-attacks can also lead to loss of data which may be critical to a business. This can be as a result of viruses and the likes that may corrupt particular software leading to compromise or complete loss of data.

  • Increased Expenses

The small business incurs extra expenses due to rebuilding the network, investigating the attack to source the path of entry and repairing the reputational damage. This can affect a small business negatively because of their lack of financial resources. According to Security Magazine, the average cost of a cyber attack can be in excess of $1m.

  • Extortion Losses

A hacker might gain access to your important information and threaten to make it public unless you pay a fee/ ransom as in the case of ransomware.

In this case, the business has to part with an unplanned amount of money which automatically becomes a loss.

  • Threat from competitors

When an attack happens and causes confidential information to get to the hands of your competitors, they might discover your business secrets or new products/services you intend to introduce. With this knowledge, competitors can use an array of business maneuvers to gain an advantage.

  • Loss of Income

A successful cyber attack can cause a business to lose customers, business deals or sponsors which will reduce income generated by the company. In more severe cases, the business might have to close down for a few days if the attack shuts down their operations and no reliable backup is available to restore normality.

Importance of Cyber Security

As technology advances, cyber-attacks are inevitably becoming even more frequent and dangerous. If cybersecurity for small businesses is not put in place, it could do major damage to whoever is attacked.  This is why it is important for small businesses.

Here are some of the major importance of cybersecurity;

  • Rapid changes and increase in modern technology

Technology is ever advancing in this modern age, with about 200 billion devices connected to the internet. This number is rapidly increasing as more and more people get exposure to the internet individuals, businesses, and organizations.

Cyber attackers have more targets and the means to effectively attack. Artificial intelligence has advanced to a level where these attackers can attack automatically. They can do damages to systems with little or no signs.

It is this increase in cyber attacks that triggers the need for cybersecurity.

  • Faster speed of the network

Another contribution to an increase in cybercrime is the advent of the 5G technology. As much as this is a great addition to the world of technology, it has its cons.

The introduction of the 5G network made a lot of things possible for cyber attackers as well. This further emphasizes the importance of cybersecurity for Small Businesses

  • Unauthorized invasion of privacy

Another importance of cybersecurity is that cyber attacks can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime. These hackers can access the personal information of individuals without his/her consent and can sell it to anyone for profit, with personal information in the hands of another person. This can put that person and his/her entire family and/business at risk.

  • Damage to various businesses

The ones at risk from cyber attacks aren’t just individuals but entire businesses as well. A hacker can attack the system of an entire company doing extensive damage whilst obtaining sensitive information. This information can make the business lose a lot if not putting them out of business. To avoid this cybersecurity is very important.

  • Cyber-attacks affect everyone

Anyone can be attacked for a variety of reasons. It is so frequent that reports show that cyber attackers attack a computer every 39 seconds.

You might think you’re not getting attacked so it doesn’t affect you right? Wrong! If an attack happens on Facebook which holds sensitive information from billions of people around the world and that sensitive information is stolen, an attack was not directly made on you but you were certainly affected.

Cyber attacks can also happen on the state-run organizations that would most likely cause them to shut down to effectively fight against it.

Solutions to Cyber Attacks

Since cyber-attacks are unhealthy for small businesses, it’s best to protect your business as much you can from these attacks. Some precautions you can take are;

  1. Have a reliable IT Expert

IT Experts are specially trained to handle IT-related issues and so they are more skilled in that area. An IT expert would help you properly install protective software and fix any damages that may occur in the event of an attack.

It is important for every business that makes use of computers and software to have an IT expert that provides guidance on how to properly secure their company network.

  • Use HTTPS

HTTPS is an abbreviation for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure and is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). It is used on the internet to ensure that information over a computer network is secure.

It helps to encrypt vital information. Thus, using HTTPS on your business website helps to stop hackers or external individuals from hacking your website and getting access to your data or vital information.

  • Use Strong passwords/Multi-Factor Authentication

Most times, people use certain passwords that could easily be known or guessed by someone else. Passwords like birthdays, anniversary dates, names, or surnames can easily be gotten by others.

To prevent cyber threats, use unique passwords. Online generators can sometimes help in picking these unique passwords as they ensure your passwords are a combination of alphabets, numbers, and symbols.

When you use a dedicated password manager, you can easily track active and obsolete accounts.  When you identify those obsolete accounts, delete them to ward off hackers. Regular change of passwords is another way to protect your information. This is will make it much harder for cyber criminals to access your information.

Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) is very highly recommended. It allows allows your applications to confirm your identity using a combination of methods which makes it much harder for unauthorized access.

  • Back-Up your data

Backing up your data in different servers or cloud is another way of preventing loss of data in the event of a cyber attack. When you store data in the cloud, it gives you easy access to get it when you want to.

  • Update Your software regularly

Regular software updates ensure that your computers are not vulnerable to attack vectors that threat actors can use to gain access to the company network. This can be very harmful to your business.

  • Train Your employees to understand Phishing attacks

Phishing attacks are one of the most popular cyber threats to small businesses. Hence, it is important to understand the schemes used in these attacks to avoid falling for them.

Let your employees know how the emails and messages present so that they can be vigilant and smart. Training your employees also makes them mindful of the links they visit while surfing the net.

  • Upgrade Your Equipment

Upgrading your computers and other equipment is another means of protecting your business from cyber-attacks. Computers, laptops, and other equipment need updates just like software.

Although changing this equipment and systems may be a bit expensive, it is a worthy investment. The reason why the upgrade of computers is important is that certain apps or software that protects your website or data are only available on newer models.

Hence, failing to upgrade means you would not have access to these protective software’s and you might end up being prey to cyber-attacks and losing more money than you would normally spend to upgrade your equipment.

  • Limit Access to Personal Data

Insider threats are a type of cyber attack and so in taking precautions, you should also be mindful of who has access to important personal data. Ensure that only trusted employees can access certain data. Also do not give one person access to all the important data to reduce the possibility of an insider attack.

  • Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Ensure your wifi network is well secured with a strong logon password policy, installing a network access control (NAC) device and implementing appropriate encryption.

Top Strategies to Address Cyber Attacks

Not all businesses can afford a standard cybersecurity unit to protect them from cyber-attacks. However, it doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to cyber-attacks. There are a few things that can be done to protect from cyber-attacks. Some of which are;

  1. Access control

In every business, there is information that should not be shared with the general public for any reason at all. This information is sensitive and it could be bad for the business if it gets out.

Examples of this sensitive information are; employee data, supplier data, information on managerial decisions and objectives, information on business properties, and so on. When this information is leaked, it could prove fatal for the business.

A smart way to prevent data leaks is Access control, classification of information to be put simply, it means restricting who knows what. The general public should know only what they need to know as well as some employees who could be “insider threats”. Limiting who knows what is a great way to protect your business from information leaks that could lead to cyber-attacks.

2. Cyber awareness

Cybersecurity for small businesses is highly fundamental.  Cyber awareness is when all employees are well informed on cybersecurity, cyber-attacks, and understand what causes them.

Cyber-attacks have a higher chance of being successful when a mistake is made on the inside such as weak passwords. This makes the defense weak and fake emails that contain malicious links, an attack known as “phishing”. When attacks can be spotted by employees, it becomes difficult for cyber attackers to invade.

3. Create reliable backups

As a business without top-notch cybersecurity, even if other steps are taken, cyber attacks are still very much a possibility. The threat of a cybercriminal encrypting business data, for a ransom to retrieve the decryption keys, very much exists

This is why it is important to have a backup or more accurately backups. Creating a backup file for your data in a secure place is the best way to protect against this.

When you save a copy of your data to the cloud and another location, it would be easy to retrieve them and restore business operations should this incident occur.

4. Adapt ways to secure new technologies

With new technology constantly emerging with time it is quite a given that businesses would adopt this new technology to make their operations easier and faster.

However, this new technology may have compatibility issues and might make the system more vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

 A good way to prevent this is to educate employees on cyber securities as well as putting policies in place to ensure the pre-testing of any new technology. You should also test its compatibility with your system before proceeding with the installation.

Final Note

Too many businesses neglect cybersecurity. This is mostly because of the risks involved and the long term effect it has on your business are not understood. How then can you confident that your business is protected, especially with lack of proper IT Security staff?

We are a professional IT company that handles cybersecurity for small businesses. Your ultimate business growth result is dependent on how you can handle your online information. Keep your business secure!

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