Could your company survive a cyberattack? Small businesses may be particularly at risk because the cost of battling a hacking incident may exceed their budgets. Executives may be brilliant at building new companies and reaching out to leads, but lack a bit of IT knowledge. Without the full-time technical staff a larger operation has, they are also quite vulnerable to an attack.
Around 43% of cyberattacks are against small businesses. Hackers have different intentions. One is to knock you offline by overwhelming your system, and the other is to gain access to sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or customer contact info. Either way, you need to take steps now to protect your business and your patrons.
Six basic steps will ensure you can withstand a cyberattack. Some of these protect data and your website, while others prepare you for a breach even when you’ve done everything you can to avoid one.
1. Invest in Cloud-Based Computing
Going with a cloud service gives you the same security measures more prominent companies use. Smaller brands can’t afford expensive software or security teams on their own. However, you can use a company that has these systems in place and store your essential files on their servers. Switching to the cloud improved safety for about 94% of business owners.
A cloud-based system also allows your staff to access files from anywhere, so you’ll need to decide if you want to enable remote access or not. There are some additional security measures you’ll need to take and training your employees will need to complete if you choose to access files off-site.
2. Avoid Ransomware
In some attacks, hackers take over your computer and demand money to release it. Attacks such as WannaCry target outdated software on your system — particularly Microsoft. To avoid someone taking over your computers and either stealing the files on them or locking them up, complete all updates immediately. You may want to set your system to update each night automatically.
If you are the victim of ransomware, never give the hackers money. It only encourages more attacks in the future. Instead, work with a digital security expert to restore your files and secure your computers. There is almost always something you can do to get the malware off your computer without rewarding criminals for bad behavior.
3. Choose a VPN
There are two aspects to virtual private networks (VPN you can utilize to protect your business. First, shared hosting is a cheap way to get your business website online, but it comes with problems you may not want. Not only can a hacker take out an account and attack you on the backend, but you may also find there is a drag at times, and your site doesn’t perform as well as you’d like. A VPN gives you several advantages without costing as much as a dedicated server.
Another aspect of VPNs is that you can use one for online browsing. Since most companies keep a database of dangerous sites, you’ll get a notification to avoid potential hazards. Emails will be encrypted, and the network will prevent you from stumbling onto a website you shouldn’t and inadvertently downloading malware.
4. Backup Daily
If you aren’t already backing up your data daily, you need to implement a plan. Companies such as iDrive and DropBox allow you to automate backups from your systems. If you wind up with a ransomware attack, you would merely return to the nearest point before the attack, for example. If your system crashes and you lose everything, the information is stored. Pay attention to the security on the site you hire to back up your files.
Some companies also use an external hard drive, but it’s important to have files stored in a separate location in case of a natural disaster. A cloud-based system is your best choice for backing up off-site, but that shouldn’t be the only place you keep files. The remote server could also crash, so never make one source your only file backup.
5. Train Employees
One of the ways hackers gain access to information is by tricking people into sharing logins or sensitive information. Thieves are quite savvy and will send an email that looks like it is from a reputable company or even the person’s manager. Conduct regular internet safety awareness training so your employees know what information they can and can’t share, as well as how to recognize a phishing email.
6. Plan for the Worst
Create a plan for what you’ll do if you are the victim of a cyberattack. Let’s say the worst happens, and sensitive information leaks out. You are required by regulations in some areas to inform your customers and let them know what you’ve done to fix the issue. Yes, people are going to be angry, so the faster you can rectify the problem and reassure them, the better you’ll mitigate the damage.
Never try to cover up a hacking situation where sensitive information was compromised. Immediately inform those affected so people can take measures to protect their credit card numbers or credit.
Protect Your Business
Keeping your business safe from the nefarious intentions of others should be one of your top priorities. When you make digital security a vital part of your routine, you’ll reduce the chances of losing money due to an attack. Take the steps needed to guard your assets, and you’ll have one less worry in running your business.