In a world where hacking has become a highly profitable, highly common and highly dangerous phenomenon, protecting your business from cyber threats has never been more important. With more high profile instances of hacking being reported in the news every week, cybercrime is becoming an epidemic in our internet-dependent economy. If you’re an owner of a small business, you might be tempted to dismiss this as something that only happens to big corporations who are targeted for their public profiles and large bank balances. However, it’s starting to become apparent that hackers aren’t just targeting big businesses; they’re also picking on small and medium sized ventures that have neglected to protect themselves from cyber threats. But what does this mean for your business, and how can you protect against it?
How Can Cyber Threats Affect You?
If you own a small business, you might not be fully aware of the threats that cyber security breaches can pose, and how they can affect your business. To start with, you should be aware that cybercriminals will not pass over your business just because it’s not big enough for them to profit from. One US study found that 71% of cyber attacks targeted businesses with less than 100 employees, while another showed that half of small to medium businesses have had a security breach in the past year. The reality is that your business could well be targeted by hackers, so it’s very wise to protect yourself from these threats.
Cyber threats have been around for as long as the internet has, but as technology develops they become more and more sophisticated. Therefore, it is essential to have up-to-date protection that encompasses the most advanced cyberattacks. The aim of many cybercriminals is to seize data from companies, particular those which have sensitive, personal data regarding many users. They then hold this data to ransom, demanding large sums in exchange for releasing the data. Demands are often made in Bitcoins, and if they are not paid, the hackers threaten to make the data public or sell it on. This can cripple small businesses, bringing them into disrepute and causing them to fall into debt or even go bankrupt. In fact, 60% of businesses that experience a cyber attack shut down within six months.
How to Protect Your Business
Protecting your small business from cyber threats should be a priority in this internet-centric age. Luckily, there are a range of options for prevention, which mean that you are much less likely to require data recovery services, or ransomware removal. The following strategies should be used together to ensure that your business remains safe from cyber attacks:-
1. Get Tested
As hacking strategies become more sophisticated, so too does preventative testing for businesses. Comprehensive professional penetration testing is available to discover the potential weaknesses in your business’ cyber security, which then allows you to take steps to strengthen your security measures and protect yourself from future cyber attacks.
2. Prepare Your Policies
In order to be able to deal with a cyber attack effectively, you need to be prepared. Developing your own policies and procedures on what you will do in the event of an attack is absolutely vital, as is ensuring that all of your staff are well versed and trained in these policies. There are many online guides you can use to help you with this.
3. Install the Right Software
Investing in effective anti-malware software might seem expensive, but it is certainly worth it in the long term. As the majority of security weaknesses come down to human error, this software is essential protection for those inevitable phishing emails, which 30% of employees are reported to have opened. Always make sure that your firewalls and antivirus software are up to date.
4. Backup Your Data
This might seem obvious, but it’s vital to back up your business’ documents, spreadsheets, HR data and accounts, in case of any accident or attack. Of course, prevention is always the best strategy, but it’s vital to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Backing up your data will minimise the effects of an attack and allow your business to continue trading.
5. Enforce High Level Passwords
Password security never ceases to be a hot topic in cyber security, especially as the majority of people still only use one or two passwords for all of their accounts. A staggering 63% of security breaches occur due to lost, stolen or weak passwords, which shows just how vital it is to enforce strong password practices. All passwords should be changed every 60 days to ensure maximum protection.