Contrary to popular belief, hackers don’t aim only for giant corporations; small- and medium-sized businesses haven’t been excluded, and as of late, they’ve actually been more favoured. Why wouldn’t they be? By targeting smaller companies, hackers won’t have to invest as much time and energy to successfully infiltrate networks, because larger enterprise websites are generally more secure. The pot of gold might not be as big, but at the end of the day, it’s still gold.
Symantec has recently published a threat report detailing that three out of every five cyber attacks targeted small businesses. Despite hinting towards a gloomy outlook for SMBs and startup companies, not all hope is lost. There are many things that business owners can do to safeguard their hard work from the danger posed by cyber criminals. According to a 2013 Small Business Technology Survey, small businesses that successfully prevent hacking attempts can save up to $8,699.48 -- the average recovery cost against cyber attacks.
Albus Dumbledore once said, “There will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.” In this case, easy refers to how certain businesses believe they won’t fall prey due to their size. But right hints at the preemptive measures that can be implemented to safeguard your vital assets. Here are some of them:
During meetings, it's quite normal for numerous topics to be discussed in one sitting. If that's the case, why not bring up the issue of cybersecurity? You can't say someone is negligent or incompetent if they are unaware of what is expected of them and what to expect as well. During your next meeting, bring up the issue of cybercrime and what should be done to prevent any possible attempts. It might not be immediately noticed, but at least it's on the table and not in the dark.
Keeping everything updated
One of the easiest things you can do to thwart cybercriminals from infiltrating your systems is to ensure that your company’s devices are up-to-date. This includes keeping an eye out for any update notifications for your operating systems, firewalls, web browsers, antivirus software, as well as other third-party plugins. By ignoring these notifications and postponing following through with these security updates, you are unknowingly creating chinks in your security defense armour.
These words, uttered by Ali Baba, opened up the cave with hidden treasure. Now think of yourself as Ali and your company’s sensitive information as the cave. If the password was to be something generic like a frequently used term, your treasure is a good as gone. According to author Nicole Periroth, passwords should be ideally 14 characters or more in length, plus a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols, which make it even harder to crack.
It’s a fact that longer passwords are hard to keep track of. Stringing together the first letters of your favorite quotes and song lyrics might help. Alternating passwords for varying accounts can also help. Tools such as LastPass and 1Password help you manage all your passwords. The upside here is that you have to remember only one secure password to unlock the tool.
Install anti-malware and antivirus protection
If you or your staff members open the wrong email or unknowingly visit harmful websites, that you've essentially let them in. From there, the malware can install code in the background to capture keystrokes and login credentials and then relay them directly to the hackers. That’s why it's paramount to load anti-malware and antivirus protection on your machines -- even on mobile devices -- making sure that you run them after every software update to detect potential vulnerabilities. Constantly updating programs and hardware is also a good way to fend off worms that reside in out-of-date software.
Firewalls, firewalls, firewalls
These computer security systems help protect your devices or networks from hackers and malicious code. Their main job is to filter traffic going into your PC or network via an Internet connection, sifting through the data and blocking (based on your configurations) potential threats. Firewalls meticulously monitor data flow with 3 types of filtering mechanisms:
- Packet filtering or packet purity - this targets any offensive or unwanted pockets of information found in the data flow.
- Proxy - they take on the role of a recipient and sends it to the node requesting information and vice versa.
- Inspection - instead of going through the data flow, they mark key features in all outgoing requests, cross-reference for matching inflow characteristics, and decide whether or not relevant information is coming through.
Any business’s greatest asset is its information and data, yet many business owners are leaving it to chance -- and the tigers are ready to pounce. By implementing the right defensive measures, you can safeguard your small- or medium-sized businesses from the clutches of ruthless cybercriminals. If you have any questions about hacking and small businesses, please do not hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We are more than ready to help you with all your issues and serve as your bridge towards success.
If you have any questions about hacking and small businesses, read our long-form post Everything SMBs should know about cybersecurity in 2018 or contact us via phone or email today. We are more than ready to help you with all your issues and serve as your bridge towards success.