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How to prevent a Cyber Attack for Small Businesses

If you are a small business, how do you prevent a cyber attack from happening?

Hackers are now actively performing targeted cyber attacks due to small businesses’ weak security. In fact, 43 percent of cyber attacks today are aimed at smaller firms.

Unfortunately, falling victim to cyber attacks can be devastating. Cyber attacks can cause downtime, damaged reputation, and lost revenue that most small businesses struggle to bounce back from. In fact, cyber attack prevention is quite a challenging part for small scale businesses!

On the upside, if you’re a small business owner, know that it is possible for you to improve your security. Security solutions providers are even making their security tools more affordable for small companies.

For example, small businesses, such as yourself, can subscribe to cloud-based anti-malware and firewall services that can provide similar protection to what large enterprises already enjoy.

Aside from these more conventional solutions, even more advanced measures such as vulnerability assessment and penetration testing are now becoming more accessible to small businesses.

By knowing these pitfalls, you will be able to make the necessary adjustments or changes to plug the gaps.

Mind you, the threat is real. It’s not unlikely for hackers to be targeting your company right now. As such, you must implement stringent security measures that can thwart even complex threats.

The common misconception is this: Don’t Equate Small with Safe

Despite significant cybersecurity exposures, 85 percent of small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware or a data breach. This disconnect is largely due to the widespread, albeit mistaken, belief that small businesses are unlikely targets for cyber attacks. In reality, data thieves are simply looking for the path of least resistance. Studies found that 40 percent of attacks are against organizations with fewer than 500 employees!

Outside sources like hackers aren’t the only way your company can be attacked. Often smaller companies have a family-like atmosphere and put too much trust in their employees. This can lead to complacency, which is exactly what a disgruntled or recently fired employee needs to execute an attack on the business.

So here are 10 steps you can take to prevent a cyber attack on your company:

#1: Determine a Baseline of Security Needs

I know, it is easy for business owners to get overwhelmed by the multitude of security solutions for cyber attack prevention being marketed to small businesses. However, it is important for you to first understand what your business needs are so that you’d know what kind of IT infrastructure would be needed to support these needs. You don’t even have to waste your precious resources by going over the top in your IT and security spending!

Understand which business areas have to be supported by technology.

This way, you’ll be able to identify what software and hardware will you be needing. In addition, know where your data will reside. Will you be using an on-premises server or cloud storage?

From this clear picture of your infrastructure, it would be possible to identify what security solutions are needed to protect each of these components.

But remember, it only takes one faulty endpoint for you to fall victim to a cyber attack even with a small office network.

#2: Invest in Capable Security Solutions

Investing in capable security tools is an obvious step for you to take in beefing up your cybersecurity.

Endpoint protection such as antimalware and antiviruses, and network security tools such as firewalls are among the essential solutions you should be implementing.

Did you know that your computers and network are only as safe as you maintain them? So while it may be a nuisance for your employees to receive pop-up notifications to update their software, it is vital to closing gaps where hackers are trying to penetrate your network. Antivirus and anti-spyware tools are constantly working and updating to battle the latest attacks, but if every machine is not routinely updated, you leave your company vulnerable to an attack that can quickly take down the whole infrastructure. Remind your employees how important the periodic interruptions are.

You may also have to look beyond free tools and invest in more advanced solutions that can detect and combat advanced threats.

Fortunately, many enterprise-grade solutions are now available through the cloud. They can be easily acquired through flexible and affordable subscriptions. Most feature easy integrations that even an ordinary tech-literate user can implement them without much fuss.

You must also be able to test and check the effectiveness of these tools.

#3: Carry Out Risk Assessments

Conduct cybersecurity risk assessments on a regular basis in order to mitigate the risks.

There should be a separate department in your company that is dedicated to minimizing the risk of data loss

Risk Management is one of the key factors that contribute towards the growth of your company as it keeps the business safe from getting exposed to competitors who are always looking for insights. You can also hire a professional like a Managed Service Provider (MSP) – these are experts at protecting your company against threats and are known for producing positive results for your business.

#4: Use a firewall for Internet connection

Just like a castle has a moat and strong walls to keep the bad guys out, a firewall is a first line of defense to prevent unauthorized access to your computers or network.

The constant safety checks that firewalls provide help keep your data protected.

#5: Use Strong Passwords and Regularly change them

It’s important to discourage credentials reuse. Users who use the same password for their personal and professional accounts are putting both your company and themselves at risk.

Don’t repeat your passwords on different sites, and change your passwords regularly. Make them complex. That means using a combination of at least 10 letters, numbers, and symbols.

You can use a password manager to create and manage strong, unique passwords for every account. This way, you’d also be able to track who gets access to specific accounts and components in your infrastructure.

#6: Use Two Factor Authentication

Enabling two-factor authentication is one of the cyber attack prevention methods that can also add an extra layer of account protection.

An additional access requirement such as a one-time password (OTP) sent to an email account or mobile phone can impede hackers even if they already cracked the username and password combination.

#7: Schedule Backups and Regularly Update Software

Even with capable security solutions, it’s also prudent to prepare for breaches. Some hackers are cruel enough to not just steal data but destroy users’ copies as well. To prevent your data from getting absolutely destroyed, remember to schedule and maintain backups.

You can use a secure cloud storage solution that mirrors the documents found on your local computers.

Most solutions allow you to restore your data in case they’re corrupted due to a malware attack.

Attacks that can potentially damage and steal sensitive information can also be avoided if you use updated software. Updates usually address vulnerabilities that hackers can easily exploit.

So, for cyber attack prevention don’t dismiss update notifications and just click the “remind me later” button. Most applications now have an automatic update feature. You or your IT team can configure installed applications and operating systems to update automatically. You can also send a company-wide reminder to employees for software that needs to be updated manually.

#8: Take measures to help protect yourself against identity theft

Identity theft occurs when someone wrongfully obtains your personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. How? You might be tricked into giving personal information over the internet, for instance, or a thief might steal your mail to access account information. That’s why it’s important to guard your personal data.

It is especially important to know how to protect your identity even when traveling.

There are a lot of things you can do to help keep criminals from getting your private information on the road. These include keeping your travel plans off social media and by using a VPN when accessing the internet over your hotel’s Wi-Fi network.

#9: Ensure a Strong Sign-Off Policy

In order to keep your company safe and secure from online threats, you need to develop and implement a strong sign-off policy for all employees.

This sign-off policy should ensure that the employees return laptops and mobile devices before they leave the premises.

In addition to this, the email address that you use must be encrypted so information doesn’t leak and data remains confidential.

#10: Train and Educate Employees

While the perception is that cyber security breaches are the cause of a shady computer hackers across the globe, the reality is that most data breaches are the result of human error.

Educating your employees to be vigilant in protecting data is as important as having firewalls set up.

Your team should be aware of suspicious emails requesting confidential information. If there’s ever a question about the legitimacy of an email making such requests, call the sender to verify they actually sent an email. In addition, make sure employee’s company phone, laptop and/or tablets require passwords to access private data. Leaving an unlocked phone in a cab could be as damaging as a hacker penetrating your network.

Social engineering attacks such as phishing continue to be among the popular ways hackers try to gain access into systems. In fact, 57 percent of small businesses that were attacked said they were phishing victims. You must ensure that your employees will not easily fall for these scams.

Conducting cybersecurity training should be part of your on-boarding process. Through training, everyone would understand the seriousness of even just one small mistake can cause.

Regular training will also help your employees develop a security-first mindset. They’d know how to manage and use security tools effectively, spot phishing attacks, and detect suspicious activities in a network.

Better Safe than Sorry

Most small businesses can’t afford to suffer a major security breach. Thus, building a strong security perimeter that can combat modern threats should be one of your top priorities.

Following these steps, while not entire foolproof, can greatly enhance your cybersecurity and reduce the possibility of getting hacked. Ultimately, doing your due diligence can help you safeguard sensitive data and can save your company from harm.

Want to prevent cyber attacks on your company? Click the green button below to contact us today and see how we can help your business.

eVantage Technology is a professional and trusted IT solutions provider, dedicated to providing exceptional service to companies in Singapore and across Asia.

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