8 Steps to Mitigate the Risks of a Cyber Attack on Your Small Business
What constitutes a cyber attack or cyber incident?
The NCSC defines a cyber incident as a breach of a system’s security policy in order to affect its integrity or availability and/or the unauthorised access or attempted access to a system or systems; in line with the Computer Misuse Act (1990).
A cyber attack is an assault launched by cybercriminals using one or more computers against a single or multiple computers or networks. A cyber attack can maliciously disable computers, steal data, or use a breached computer as a launch point for other attacks. Cybercriminals use a variety of methods to launch a cyber attack, including malware, phishing, ransomware, denial of service, among other methods.
Source National Cyber Security Centre UK
According to the business population estimates for 2021, small and medium-sized businesses amount to 5.6 million of the country’s business population. A further study done by Hiscox shows that small organisations experienced a 14% increase in cyber-attack incidents.
Whether you’re a believer in statistics or not, there’s no denying that small businesses are facing an increasing risk of varying degrees of cyber threats.
Are Small Businesses At Risks For Cybercrime?
A common misconception is that only large organisations can be victims of cybercrime. The reality is if your business has a digital footprint you’re at risk. Many hackers might target small businesses because they believe smaller companies don’t have the protection that bigger organisations can invest in, and they are also ‘launchpads’ to attack their bigger customers or partners.
What Does Mitigating the Risk Mean?
In short, mitigating a cyber risk refers to reducing the severity of the event. A large part of cybersecurity centres around mitigating strategies to limit the impact of threats against the customer and product data housed in your small business.
Risk mitigation often refers to three elements:
- Prevention measures: Preventing cybercriminals from gaining access to company systems
- Detection tools: Additional of tools that notify the business owner in the event of security breaches
- Remediation: Tools that assist with removing damages or threats caused by the intrusion (such as ransomware, malware or tools that steal your data or identity)
8 Effective Strategies to Ensure Your Small Business is Protected
Fortunately, there are some key steps you can take to reduce your company’s chances of an invasive hack.
- Create A security Conscious Environment
Whether your small business consists of five or ten people, or just yourself, the key factor is being security conscious. Be sure to follow basic safety protocols such as the few we’ve listed here:
- Lock or log out of all programs and apps before you walk away from a system or smart device
- Don’t use a business email account for personal emails that could make it easier to get phishing mails
- Each user should have their own account and password (even if it’s only two of you!)
- Using a VPN isn’t a defence mechanism – in fact, it might make it easier for hackers to gain access to your network via the remote connection
- Investing in next generation antivirus (aka ActiveEDR), or if uncertain what that means,speak to a security specialist for a personal recommendation
- Secure your data, wherever it is. For example, there’s no point in investing in a firewall if you don’t have onsite servers – if your small business uses the cloud, firewalls are redundant, but a cloud security service may be needed.
- Protect Your Physical Hardware
Whether you’re running your small business from an office space or simply from your laptop at home, be sure to keep your hardware safe. Actual hardware theft is one of the easiest ways for cybercriminals to get access to your business data. Invest in tracking software on all your devices to assist with locating them in the event of loss or theft.
- Password Security
When you start researching ways to reduce the risk of cyber-crime, password security is always on the list. It may seem standard procedure to many users, but believe it or not, it’s still one of the top risk factors.
While we’ve all heard the general rules of creating passwords for different applications on your business site, the best option might be to invest in a password manager. Essentially, a password manager is an app on your computer, tablet or mobile device that stores your passwords. That way you don’t need to remember 20 or 100 different passwords. Simply log into the password manager using a “master” password and a secure authentication method, and you’ll be able to use all your other passwords on all your validated websites.
- Enhanced Email Security
While cybercriminals are continuously improving and creating ways to get into your system, it’s no secret that 93% of malicious threats still gain access to your system via your mailbox. Not only are they difficult to spot, but they can also be opened by anyone in your business at any time.
This is especially the case in small businesses where two or three people might use one business email address for company communications. The solution here is to opt for an email security service that can remove 99% of potential attacks before they make their way to your inbox.
- Data Back-up and Recovery
Depending on the type of business you’re running, your customer data can be very sensitive. For instance, your data could be made up of client banking details. Cybercriminals who gain access to your system could easily hold the data hostage for money. With a failure to pay comes the threat of releasing or violating the data, putting your company, your clients and partners at risk.
With that in mind, backup and recovery of your data has never been more relevant. Using a quality backup and recovery program will ensure that your data is securely copied and stored. This will provide you with access to all your business information in the event of a breach that results in data loss.
- Two-Factor (or Multi-Factor) Authentication
The good news is that many programs and apps require two-factor authentication. This provides the user with an extra layer of protection. Entering your password in a device will require authentication on another before access is granted.
This is essential in any apps or programs that direct you to customer or business data. Additionally, if your business has an extensive social media presence, this security feature is important across all your platforms. Check security settings to ensure this feature is turned on.
- Work With the Right Security Partner
It’s important to align yourself with the right security partner. Ideally, you want to deal with a partner that understands the needs of a small business in your specific industry. If they understand your industry they’ll have a clearer anticipation of the risks your business can face. Using a vendor with a proven track record will give you peace of mind that they have the necessary defences against the risks that your small businesses faces.
- Create a Contingency Plan
If you’re running a small business, it might seem arduous to create a whole cyber security plan for an event that may not happen. In fact, many people have the “deal with it when it happens” approach.
We urge small business owners (no matter how small) to draw up a potential cyber breach plan. Setting a plan in place will ensure that you have the right solutions, finances and insurance in place to mitigate cyber risk. If you feel that your attention will be best used on creating your business revenues, be sure to discuss a plan with your security specialist. Drawing up a security plan will be quick and easy if you have expert guidance.
With cyber threats becoming more advanced, your small business is always at risk. It’s crucial to be proactive and invest in the best security solutions for your business’s unique needs. Let the experts take care of all your company’s data security needs.
Security Everywhere specialises in keeping small businesses protected from all types of cyber threats. An individual risk assessment will identify the strategies needed to mitigate the effects of cybercrime on your data. Keeping your small business protected is as simple as booking a free discovery session with us today!