Protecting Your Business From Cyber Attacks
Are you doing everything in your power to protect your company against cyber attacks? If not, you may be putting your customers and the longevity of your business at risk. A hacker attack occurs every 39 seconds, and within moments, an endless number of private business info and customer data is snatched away.
The good news is that securing your business against cyber attacks is less daunting than it may seem. With a bit of training and a few process implementations, you can keep your company from being a scary statistic. Let’s look at the threat of cybercrime and how to prevent an attack.
The Dangers of Poor Cybersecurity
The dangers associated with a lack of proper cybersecurity can not be understated. One attack alone could cause your business to shut down for good. When your business gets hit with a cyber attack, it can mean the loss of customers and a financial impact that you may not be able to overcome.
The cost of cleaning up the mess, restoring customer faith, and building up your security post-attack can be astronomical, with some studies showing an average expected cost of $150 million per attack in 2020. While we have heard of significant attacks at major retailers like Target and Macy’s, small businesses are often more at risk of cybercrime because hackers know that entrepreneurs may not have their systems as fully protected as the big guys. In fact, as of 2018, 58% of cyber attack victims were small businesses.
So how do you protect your business from cyber threats? You start by conducting a risk assessment. Begin by identifying potential cyber threats such as phishing scams and ransomware. Then rank these issues by their potential to occur and the damage that would impact your business if they became a reality. Now, it is time for you to build a team to look at all of these vulnerabilities. Patch them up now, and you won’t be sorry later.
Protect the Business
In order to have success with your risk assessment, you need to know how to protect your systems. Start by having continuously updated backup servers in place that are separated from your mainframe so data can be recovered after a breach. Employees should be trained to back up their information on a regular basis. Additionally, all information should be encrypted on main computers and mobile devices so the data cannot be read even if it is stolen.
To prevent any intrusion or leakage of information, your IT team will need to create and maintain strong firewalls and restrict the websites that employees can visit. Your antivirus software must also be active with scans completed every few days. If threats are caught, follow the advice of the software to patch the holes, and always update your antivirus program as new versions learn from past breaches and prevent them from occurring again.
Every corporate budget should make space for business insurance, especially a package that protects against cyber threats. Many of these policies cover legal fees and assist in recovering compromised data. The insurance company can also help to notify customers of the breach and inform them of the next steps to protect their information. If your business is ever hit by a major attack, business insurance might be what gets you back on your feet.
Train the Team
The only way to ensure the complete security of your business is to verify that every member of your team understands the threats and is taking the proper precautions. Take the time to form a security awareness program where the entire staff is trained on corporate policies, new and existing threats, and what to do if they see anything suspicious. You can even have a few of your agents become cybersecurity certified, so they can keep a close eye on the systems, keep them protected, and resolve any red flags.
One of the most common attacks on businesses and individuals alike are phishing scams. These are emails that are sent to people with the intention of creating a sense of fear or worry so they recipient will reply or click on an included link or attachment, which opens a door into your computer system and can lead to viruses. To create urgency, the email will often appear to be from a boss or a bank and demand a response. It is important that all employees are aware of the signs of phishing emails:
- An email address that looks familiar but is off by a letter or uses symbols instead of letters.
- A request to click a link or open an attachment that you were not expecting.
- Misspelled words (this is how they get past the spam filter).
- Messages starting with something like “valued member” instead of saying your name.
It is also essential to keep in mind that while most cyber threats are external, dangers can also come from within your organization. When you bring on new employees, complete a thorough background check for previous crimes, with an emphasis on theft, then hire accordingly. Employees should always lock their computers when they walk away and use complex passwords that include uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
The importance of proper cybersecurity cannot be understated, both for your business and the customers who put their trust in your services. Make the right changes now so you are prepared for the future.