Today more than ever, the need for a cybersecurity plan is imperative. As technology advances and hackers become more skilled, cybersecurity threats are imminent. These threats are not something to ignore—they can have a lasting impact on businesses small and large.
Cybercriminals will attempt to get into your systems to find sensitive data, intellectual property, credit card numbers, passwords, and so much more.
According to a Verizon Data Breach Report, small businesses account for 43% of cyberattacks. What’s even more shocking is the average loss per attack is more than $188,000. This dollar amount could be catastrophic for many small businesses—and that’s why 60% of them fold within six months of a cyberattack.
If your business becomes subjected to a possible attack, there are four things you should do once you notice the cybersecurity threat.
- Assess the damages.
- Respond immediately.
- Advise customers, suppliers, and anyone else affected.
- Perform an audit to determine the score and vulnerabilities.
However, there are a few additional cybersecurity tips that may help put a stop to the threat before you even get to this stage.
Require All Employees to Use Strong Passwords
One of the simplest ways for a cybercriminal to infiltrate technology is by users not creating strong, unique passwords. An example of a weak password would be your last name followed by a series of consecutive numbers or letters. Certainly, a more creative password can be used to improve your security!
A strong password should contain at least 12 characters that are a compilation of numbers, symbols, and capital and lowercase letters. In addition to this, you should create a plan to change the password every so often. However, the same password should never be reused or shared over the phone, in text messages, or by email.
Provide Firewall Security for Internet Connection
A firewall is a set of related programs that prevents outsiders from accessing data on a private network. It’s important to be sure your operating system’s firewall is enabled or you install a free firewall software online.
Without firewall protection, your business may be susceptible to malware attacks (also known as unauthorized software designed to cause harm). Malware attacks are often hidden and are masked as something they are not. Criminals will often use email, social media, phone calls, or text messages to try and scam individuals. This is known as phishing.
In addition to firewalls, you can also hide your Wi-Fi network by setting up your wireless access point or router so it doesn’t broadcast the network name—which is known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID).
Update Often and Save Your Work Frequently
In an effort to defend your business against a cybersecurity threat, it’s important that you automatically update your operating system, update your software applications, and regularly back up all of your data. During a serious attack, there is always the threat of losing everything you keep on your computers and other devices. This is why it’s important to have up-to-date platforms and save any information that is important in more than one place.
Aside from malware, you are also at risk of ransomware, which works by locking up or encrypting your files so that you can no longer use or access them.
If you receive an automated message on your device asking you to update your operating system, you should as soon as possible. Or, if you have many devices to update as many businesses do, set up an automatic update schedule.
Control Who is Given Access
If you want to limit cybersecurity threats, you need to limit who is using company devices. Your employees should be the only people authorized to use a company device unless someone is supervising a third-party user.
During an employees’ onboarding process, they should be made aware of all company rules and regulations with regard to the use of technology. Each employee should have their own account, but administrative privileges should only be granted to information technology (IT) staff and key personnel.
You should also consider training your employees in cybersecurity. A study by GetApp revealed that 43% of employees don’t receive regular data security training.
Partner with a PEO
The great thing about a professional employer organization (PEO) is provide you with their own highly-secure technology. When dealing with things like your payroll, employee benefits and information, and tax information, a PEO is the most secure partner you can have.
While there remains a myriad of threats currently facing all businesses, the best way for businesses to protect against these threats is to have security tools and protocols in place, to ensure employees are aware of security threats and how to prevent them.
Andy Lindley is the CTO of Vensure.