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Cybersecurity for Small Businesses: Are You Prepared?

Cybersecurity for Small Businesses: Are You Prepared?

If you’re a small business owner, you might think you’re safe from cyber attacks, but statistics show otherwise. According to a 2012 Symantec report, 50% of cyber attacks targeted businesses with more than 2,500 employees and only 18% targeted small businesses. Fast forward to 2019: 43% of ALL cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses.  When it comes to cybersecurity, no one is immune to an attack, so it’s essential that you prepare yourself to respond to prevent, detect, and respond to security threats. 

Cyber attacks can target both individuals and businesses, creating a variety of risks for those affected. Cyber attacks often result in additional expenses in order to address the breach, but they can also affect a company’s market value. 

According to Strategy + Business, cyber attacks cost large companies an average of $600 million in equity value. Cyber attack victims can also suffer from identity theft, data loss, and a damaged reputation.

Small Business Trends estimates that only 1 in 4 of small businesses are prepared for cyber attacks. Sadly, of those businesses, 57% lack the budget to provide the necessary security, 37% have insufficient staff training, and 54% lack time to monitor for threats. 

Security is a critical component to your business model, and even small businesses can learn how to better safeguard against cyber attacks.

Prepare your Cybersecurity for Cyber Attacks

As you prepare to respond to cyber attacks, decide who will handle security incidents, and consider forming a response team that includes representatives from all relevant departments.
  • Set clearly defined roles and a detailed action plan so that you can quickly respond to security breaches when they occur.
  • Create an Incident Response Plan (IRP) to more effectively handle security threats. Conduct a cybersecurity audit to identify vulnerabilities and address any security gaps.
  • Review the IRP with your response team regularly (at least annually), and keep your IRP up to date as you identify potential threats.

Reduce Employee Risk

Humans are one of your greatest security threats, and training your employees on cybersecurity methods is crucial if you hope to prevent a cyber attack. 

Make cybersecurity a part of your on-boarding process so that every employee is prepared to respond to a crisis. Encourage employees to use unique, encrypted passwords, and conduct regular reviews to test employee knowledge.

Prevent Data Loss

Another area of concern with regard to security is data loss. According to Varonis, 20% of data files are left unprotected. Gain full visibility of your data so it’s easier to monitor your network. Watch for and address any suspicious activity. You can add an extra layer of security by backing up your data and encrypting any sensitive information. One of the most important things you can do to safeguard against cyber attacks is following some best practices.
  • Keep passwords and sensitive information protected, and don’t share them with anyone.
  • Learn how to detect phishing emails so you don’t unknowingly follow a malicious link or download a virus.
  • It may also be a good idea to automate system updates so you can ensure everything is current.

Keep Your Network Protected Against Cybersecurity Threats

Antivirus

In addition to following safety procedures, you can protect your devices through an antivirus solution. According to Panda Security, businesses can expect to encounter more sophisticated malware, DDoS attacks, and other dangerous threats throughout 2019.

Protections like antivirus can mitigate threats and protect your device from becoming infected. Viruses spread by attaching to files and then reproducing, allowing them to infect other devices and infiltrate a network. Antivirus software scans your device in order to detect these attacks. You can also choose a specialized form of antivirus—like malware signature antivirus, system monitoring antivirus, or machine learning antivirus—to target specific types of malware.

Firewalls

While an antivirus will help you protect individual devices, you’ll also want to secure your network as a whole. A firewall monitors traffic entering and leaving the network, allowing you to block unauthorized content from accessing the network. You can take advantage of both software and hardware firewalls for added security. Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) provide additional features, such as encrypted traffic inspection, intrusion prevention systems, and antivirus.

DNS Management

Use of DNS can both help and harm your network. Products like Cisco Umbrella can help ensure that your employees only connect to clean, verified, and malware-free services. They gather statistics based on domains and IP addresses to identify if they are part of the Cyber attackers’ infrastructure or if anomalies have been seen from those sites. When DNS has been configured, it can help prevent cyber attacks before they reach your network. 

Regardless of your security situation, it’s important to regularly back up your files in a secondary location. According to Accenture, malware attacks cost an average of $2.4 million, and data loss represents 43% of these costs.

Backing up your data with the cloud is a fast and easy option that can save your company time and money. The cloud is more affordable than most other storage options, especially for small businesses. Additionally, the cloud offers automatic backups, off-site access, and improved security. Contact us to find the right storage option for your business.

Learn How to Detect Possible Cybersecurity Threats

Cyber attacks are growing more sophisticated, and understanding how they affect you will help you better detect and respond to possible threats. Hacking occurs when cyber criminals gain unauthorized access to an email or system. They can then use this access to view, change, or steal information. Phishing allows criminals to collect sensitive information like passwords and credit card information.

Malware is a form of malicious software that can harm your devices, with ransomware being a specific form of malware that blocks key components of the network, usually in an effort to obtain money or information. A Structured Query Language (SQL) injection allows criminals to insert malicious code into a server using SQL in order to steal information. For each of these attacks, criminals are able to identify a vulnerability that allows them to access sensitive information.

Test and Monitor for Threats

As cyber attacks grow more sophisticated, it becomes necessary to learn how to identify possible threats. Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are custom attacks that target organizations in order to steal data. Sandboxing provides an isolated environment for testing security threats. It allows companies to observe the behavior of malicious code and learn how to respond to these attacks. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also changing the realm of cybersecurity. Through machine learning, AI can better understand cyber attacks and relationships between threats. AI also minimizes human input, so companies don’t have to waste as much manpower on security. Dozens of companies are already merging AI with cybersecurity, such as VersiveCrowdstrike, Symantec, and Lastline. 

Another key area of cybersecurity is Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR). By monitoring the various endpoints in your network, you can prevent a threat from sneaking in the back door. Since the majority of hackers target endpoints, endpoint security can help you reduce the chances of an attack. With EDR, you can detect hidden threats, gain visibility of endpoints and servers, automate alerts, and collect data to use for analytics. 

Improve Your Recovery Time for Better Cybersecurity

Despite thorough preparation, even the best security systems have the potential to fail. According to Symantec, IoT attacks increased by 600% in 2016. With the volume of cyber attacks growing, you need to have an Incident Response Plan (IRP) in place, in the event that a cyber attack occurs.

If you experience an attack, mobilize your response team, and identify the type of cyber attack and its cause. Consult any employees that were involved, and find out which information was released, if any. Then, respond to the cause of the attack. Secure your network by changing passwords, blocking malicious IP addresses, and repairing any vulnerabilities.

We offer SOC-as-a-Service for clients to keep their infosec cost down as a company. You will learn more about this in the MSP section below.

Depending on the severity of the security breach, it may be necessary to report and further investigate the attack. 

File a police report in case of a potential lawsuit, and inform any affected parties, especially customers. Cyber attacks have the potential to damage your reputation, but you can still maintain a high level of communication and trust. Focus your energy on repairing customer relationships by outlining your plan to address vulnerabilities.

After any cyber attack, you should conduct a post-incident review to help you prepare for future attacks. Identify which vulnerabilities allowed the attacker to succeed, and ensure that these vulnerabilities have been addressed. Implement changes to improve your network’s overall performance, and make a plan for avoiding future incidences that outlines how to detect, prevent, and respond to a similar event in the future.

Consider Managed IT Services for Cybersecurity

Maintaining a secure network is a difficult job, and trying to manage it yourself can create a lot of strain for your IT department, not to mention your company as a whole. 

Outsourcing your IT needs will provide you with greater support, while also freeing up your time to focus on your business. Managed IT Services will provide you with automatic updates, 24/7 monitoring, and regular IT support, while giving you unlimited access to experienced IT professionals. 

You can save both time and money when you choose to partner with a managed service provider.

Here at CR-T, we take pride in providing enterprise-level IT services at prices that work for small businesses. Our team of experts can become your IT support department, responding to issues quickly, often before you even know about them. Covering everything from your servers and network infrastructure, to your computers, workstations and mobile devices, we provide end-to-end solutions for all your technology needs.

Time and experience have helped us develop best practices and workflow procedures designed to keep your focus on your business, not your technology.

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