Protecting Small Business for Cyber Attacks: Follow These 3 Simple Steps
As we progress into an increasingly digital world, criminals and dangerous figures find new ways to target and harm other people.
Online data is incredibly valuable. As a small business, tracking and analyzing that data helps you improve your operations and better fulfill your customers’ needs. Data helps in criminal investigations too. A digital forensics investigator can comb through many data to find the right information for court cases and investigations. Your data mustn’t be stolen or manipulated.
It would be best if you were fully prepared to address and prevent a cyber attack that could target your small business.
What is a Cyber Attack?
A cyber attack is an assault on your computers or networks. They can be random, and you could be a victim or calculated, and you could be a target. Cybercriminals use cyberattacks to steal data or disable your systems. Cyber attacks come in many forms, such as hacking, phishing, malware, and more.
In 2017, Equifax, a major credit reporting agency in the United States, was targeted, and the information of 145.5 million customers was exposed. Criminals had access to names, Social Security and driver’s license numbers, addresses, and much more information about millions of Americans.
Criminals can target your personal data, like photos and social media accounts, as well as your customers’ vital information, like credit card and banking information. You must take these necessary steps to protect yourself and your business:
Small Business Cyber Attacks: Assess Your Security
What you think is business, as usual, might actually be practices that leave your data wide open to cyber-attacks. Hackers are trying to get to your data through emails, backdoors in your computer and mobile phone software, and through public digital cloud environments.
Many people do not even realize how few protections they have against cyber-attacks because up to now, and they have not thought about it. Even if your business is done in person, your stock, payment, and management may all be digital, and they are all at risk of being targeted by cybercriminals.
There are cybersecurity companies who specialize in finding the flaws in your system so that you can see where your weaknesses lie and address those issues. Ethical hacking employs a team of people working for your business to “break into” your system and recommend solutions to prevent malicious agents from following the same steps.
Criminals do not just target your business systems; your social media is at risk too. The more you share on your public profiles, the more at risk you are.
Know What You’re Looking For
After you improve your system, look at yourself and your employees. It is easy to get tricked by hackers looking to steal your data. It happens to even the best people. The only thing you can do is learn how to avoid cyber scams and protect your data.
It is not always easy to identify these cyber threats. Training is invaluable in learning what scams people are directing at your business and avoiding risky online activity.
Emails and websites that you think are safe could lead to phishing scams that trick you into handing over personal and professional information. You must always think before you click on a link. Try to identify the source of information. If you don’t recognize a sender or if the URL seems suspicious, trust your instincts and avoid interacting with it.
Do not download files and programs that you do not trust, and make sure your internet settings are set so that you do not automatically download files when you reach a new page.
Keep a watchful eye whenever you are on the internet and listen to your instincts. If something doesn’t feel trustworthy, do not trust it.
Secure Your Information
Now that you know where your weaknesses are, and you know what attacks you face, make it as difficult for cybercriminals to access your data as possible.
You should install firewalls and antivirus solutions that you keep up-to-date. As fast as hackers are trying to get around your security, IT and tech workers come up with new solutions to stop them. As tech workers improve security software, you should update your systems to have the last protections.
You’ve probably noticed that most accounts require a long string of letters, numbers, and symbols when you create a password. That is because hackers have programs that automatically input variations of letters, numbers, and symbols into password fields to break into your account. The longer and more complex your password is, the more difficult it is for hackers to break in. This preventative measure increases the likelihood that the hacker will be stopped before they can do any last damage.
Backing up your data is crucial to protecting your small business from cybercrime. It is wise to save all the data you collect as a business on a special hard drive separate from the main computer you use for day-to-day operations. Regularly backing up your files ensures that your data will stay safe and up-to-date.
Certain hackers are looking to cause mayhem more than anything else. That means corrupting your data so that it becomes invaluable to you. By keeping a separate hard drive, you keep the data on a system that is not connected to any server, so hackers cannot access it remotely. In fact, you can take this measure a step further by encrypting your hard drive. This translates data into a code that only you have the key to, making it useless to hackers.
Your data is just as valuable to criminals as it is to your business, but you do not need to live in fear. Take the time to examine your business’s cybersecurity and improve your personal cyberliteracy. Follow these steps, and your small business will be safe and protected from cyber-attacks.
About the Author
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey