You have probably heard of security breaches going on in huge tech companies, where the confidential information of millions of users, such as passwords, have been exposed. And you probably felt glad your small business doesn’t get this type of threads… But we’ll have to burst your bubble here: small businesses are the biggest target for hackers, meaning people who access unauthorized data through a computer. According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report, 58% of the victims of cyber attacks are small businesses, and 60% of small businesses go out of business after six months of being attacked.
But don’t panic just yet. There are ways to protect your small business against hackers and to prevent yourself from being a victim of a cybercrime, meaning criminal activities happening through computers and the internet. We’re going to explain why small businesses are easy targets for these criminals, what tactics they use, how to protect your small business from hackers and what to do in case your business suffers a security breach.
Why hackers target small business?
Small businesses usually have fewer resources or staff that is knowledgeable regarding cybersecurity, making it easier for hackers to break into their data systems and steal the information. Your small business probably gathers data from credit cards and bank accounts from your clients, as well as important employee documents. Hackers find value in these things since they can be sold in the black market and they can make a lot of money out of it. As a result, your clients, customers or you might end up being a victim of identity theft.
What tactics do hackers use to breach your business?
Phishing means that someone is trying to get sensitive information, for example, passwords, usernames, and credit card details, by pretending it is a trustable source via online communication. A very known example would be an email that seems to be from a company telling you that you won a prize but you need to click on a link to claim it.
This is a corrupted software that harms your computer, for example, a virus. It can infect your computer when you download something that is not trustworthy from the internet and then it is installed.
It is a type of malware that infects your computer and deny access to the system or its information until the ransom is paid. Think of it as if your computer system is kidnaped and you have to pay for a rescue. You can run into it with suspicious websites or email links.
This happens when someone breaks into your system or accounts, and it could be as simple as stealing the username and password from someone in your database.
10 Things you can do to protect your small business from hacker attacks
- Perform risk audit
Before doing anything else, it is recommended that you take a look at your current security systems and your available data. There are certain areas that might need protection and could put your business at risk.
- Train your employees regarding cybersecurity
Most of the security breaches occur when people don’t know about phishing and just click on anything that is sent to them without questioning it, or maybe the data is shared lightly between employees and customers. It is important that all your employees know how to handle all the sensitive information and be aware of phishing emails.
- Back up data
Make sure all your business’ information is backed up, either on cloud services or even a physical drive. Malware could hit your computer and unable you from retrieving all your information: you could lose records and documents that are vital for your business.
- Add multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication means that there is more than one way to identify the user at the moment of logging in. This includes asking a secret question besides the password or getting a verification code via SMS. Putting more security in your business logins could help protect your data in a better way.
- Install anti-virus software
If you don’t have an anti-virus software yet, make sure you get one as soon as you can. It is a great investment that can protect you from malware attacks, and you can find good anti-virus suitable for your small business budget.
- Use cloud-based security apps
A cloud-based security app can give you an overview of all the cloud apps or services you’re using in your business and allows you to identify when there is a cyberthreat and therefore to have better control of how your data is being used
- Update all systems continuously
New updates are launched very often in different software and systems. Usually, service providers update the software or apps to protect from recently found malware. The upgrades that are made can help improve the security for your data, so make sure the ones running your business are always updated.
- Beware of public wifi networks
Your employees and you should be very careful about using public wifi networks as most of the times they are not reliable. The best thing to do is to question the public wifi networks or use a Virtual Private Network, also known as VPN, to make sure that your data is protected.
- Shred all documents containing sensitive information
Nowadays most of the important information is managed digitally, but if you still have some physical documents left, make sure you back them up digitally, and shred the physical documents with sensitive information.
- Get cybersecurity insurance
Because you never know when it’s going to happen to you, it is better to be prevented. When you are a victim of a cyber attack your business can lose all its data and even stop running, which could be financially damaging. There are different types of cybersecurity insurances that help you get through business interruptions or data loss.
What to do in the event of a breach
Even if you are already protecting your business, it is always good to have a plan in case a cybersecurity breach happens. First of all, you need to remain calm and try to reach the source of the problem. Once it is identified, check what information was compromised and make sure that you have a backup copy of it and that it is safe. If needed, call an IT security expert to help you control the issue.
If the customers’ information is leaked, you need to communicate to them what happened, how was it fixed and the next steps to keep all their information safe in the future. Though the possible reactions might be scary, it is better they hear it from you than from a rumor.
Being a victim of a cyber attack could be harmful for your business’ reputation and also for your business’ pocket. There are different ways to protect your business information that are not so costly, however, they might not be enough to get you out of this. Nowadays, it is important to invest in business technology to manage and keep your business information and operations in an efficient and safe way. To be up to date in the latest trends in business technology, as well as finances, management, and marketing, simply subscribe to the Camino Financial weekly newsletter. It contains useful information and resources that will help you run your business smoothly and grow.