It can cost a hacker as little as $34 a month to launch a cyberattack. Deloitte estimates that a hacker can make $25,000 from that attack.
That return on investment makes cybercrime appealing to many. It’s the reason why cyberattacks increased over the last several years.
Unfortunately, it’s businesses that get hit the hardest. The average enterprise spends about $9 million a year on business cybersecurity.
Small businesses have it much worse. They don’t have the resources or the knowledge to fight cybercrime. They do the best they can with what they have.
In the end, many have to close because of cyberattacks. The legal liabilities, loss of consumer trust, and loss of data and productivity are too much to overcome.
The only way to overcome these issues is to learn as much as you can about cyber threats and the realities that businesses face today.
Fortunately, you’re in the right place to learn about them. Read this guide to business cybersecurity and protect your business from cyber threats.
1. Run a Business Cybersecurity Audit
A cybersecurity audit shows you where your business is most vulnerable in a cyberattack.
The first thing to do is review your plans and policies. If you don’t have a cyberattack plan or IT security policy, we’ll show you how to create them later in this article.
If you have plans in place, this is the time to review them. They may be out of date because of changes in technology or within your business.
Define the scope of the security audit. This is a checklist of items that you should have in your audit.
Take a look a the network structure. Is it optimized for maximum performance, or are there wires everywhere?
Do your systems comply with regulatory requirements?
Go through your server logs to see if there are any abnormalities. Ask your employees for information about the number of devices they use to access data on your network.
Follow up by asking how that data gets secured or if they use a VPN to connect to your network.
At the end of the audit, you’ll have identified risks to your business. Make a list of them and then prioritize them.
Make a plan to address each one, starting with the highest priority and working your way down the list.
Conduct an audit at least twice a year to stay on top of threats and vulnerabilities.
2. Create a Cyberattack Plan
Most businesses don’t have a cyberattack plan in place. If your business gets attacked, you will lose precious time because you or your employees won’t know what to do.
In the meantime, your data gets corrupted and lost forever.
Another reason to have a cyberattack plan is to identify data breaches quickly. Most data breaches take months to detect. All the while, hackers collect troves of sensitive data.
A cyberattack plan starts with monitoring. Determine how you will monitor threats and detect them. Some companies rely on an uptime service or have a constant connection to servers.
They detect abnormal behaviors. For instance, the constant pinging of servers could mean you have a denial-of-service attack.
The next step of the plan outlines prevention. What are the policies and procedures in place to help prevent attacks? The prevention plan lists the specific steps that you and your employees take daily, weekly, and quarterly to prevent attacks.
There’s a difference between reacting to a cyberattack and responding to one. When you react, you let fear take over and make bad decisions. You could end up making the attack worse.
Responding allows you to remain calm and rational. A response plan gives you the confidence that you know just how to limit the damage from a cyberattack.
The response plan is a guide that details the types of attacks and what needs to be done in the event of an attack.
In a ransomware attack, you want to isolate the infected computer as quickly as possible from the rest of the network.
3. Update Software
One of the simplest cybersecurity solutions is a matter of updating software.
Security vulnerabilities get found often. The most recent one happened in December 2021. The “Log4Shell” vulnerability got discovered.
It’s found in a tool called Log4j, which is used by most enterprise organizations and cloud service providers.
Just about anyone can use this tool to exploit sensitive data on servers. It gives outsiders access to your network and gives them the ability to plant executable files like malware on your servers.
This is a critical vulnerability, rated 10 out of 10 by security experts.
Vulnerability warnings like this get discovered regularly. If you don’t update your software with security patches, you run the risk of a cyberattack.
Make a plan to run critical updates at least once a week. This ensures you’re running the latest versions of software that keep your data safe and secure.
4. Use Strong Passwords
The word ‘admin’ is one of the most common passwords in use. It seems like common sense to change it, but many employees don’t.
They figure it’s much easier to use an easy-to-remember password. That’s especially true if more than one person accesses the computer, too.
If someone forgets, then you have to create a new password and make sure everyone has access to it.
That makes ‘admin’ one of the most expensive words. When Equifax suffered a data breach in 2017, it lost billions of dollars in lawsuit settlements.
The main cause of the breach was that its employees used ‘admin’ as the login and password for a critical server.
Make sure that your employees use strong passwords for every program they use. You can also have a policy that forces them to change passwords every 90 days.
You can also institute two-factor authentication (2FA). This requires someone to log in using a code sent to an email address or device.
Strong passwords can cause a lot of trouble. Employees lose passwords, they don’t update them regularly, or they forget them.
Use a password manager such as NordPass or LastPass. These tools hold passwords. They have autofill features so employees don’t have to remember 40 passwords during the workday.
The passwords are safe, secure, and strong enough to ward off simple attacks.
5. Understand the Most Common Cyberthreats
You can’t fully protect your business from cyber threats if you don’t understand what those threats are.
Denial-of-service attacks are meant to overwhelm your systems to the point where they can’t function. This happens by sending targeted traffic to your website and servers.
Phishing emails are bulk emails sent in the hopes of someone giving up passwords or financial data. Some ask for payments.
Malware is a type of file that seeks to destroy data or hold it for ransom.
The one thing you have to account for is vindictive current and former employees. These people can be business liability and cause a data breach.
6. Create a Cybersecurity Policy
A cybersecurity policy outlines the rules and regulations of IT property. This is mostly for cybersecurity protections.
A comprehensive policy outlines everything from a password policy to mobile device access.
This is sent and signed by every employee in your organization. They must abide by the policy or risk disciplinary action.
The disciplinary action gets outlined in the policy, too. You can outline what constitutes a warning. An employee can receive a certain amount of warnings before suspension or termination.
7. Train Employees
Cybersecurity takes a significant effort from everyone in your organization. One study showed that human error caused 88% of cyberattacks.
The one thing that sticks out in the study is that employees don’t admit mistakes if they think they’ll be treated harshly.
Make sure that you’re firm with employees, but be clear that there are consequences for deliberate or careless behavior.
Do your best to train employees to identify scams. Many of them click on phishing emails, while others sent money to strangers.
Talk to your employees about the importance of business cybersecurity and make it clear that they can ask questions if they have doubts about emails.
8. Use Administrative Permissions
Does everyone have the same level of access to data within your organization? Does everyone need the same access to critical data?
You can assign user permissions to protect data. This is important if an employee’s data gets compromised.
Someone could leave a laptop at a coffee shop. If they have unrestricted permissions, anyone who grabs that laptop can easily access your most critical data.
It’s the same if someone obtains login information for an employee.
User permissions restrict access to files and folders. Some permissions grant full access and control, while others grant the ability to read data, but not overwrite it.
You can decide who needs access to what and assign permissions accordingly.
9. Always Backup Data
Your data is your business. What would happen to your business if you lost customer records, lead information, tax data, and employee records?
You wouldn’t have much of a business left. You’d also become vulnerable if you get audited because you don’t have the necessary information to prove your tax information.
You should always have a backup of your data available.
It’s not enough to have just one backup of data. IT pros call multiple backups redundancies. This is in case something happens to your working copies and your backups.
Keep a third copy of your data off-site, whether that’s on a cloud server or elsewhere. Your data will always be protected and safe.
10. Get a Good Cyber Insurance Policy
The insurance industry recognized the risks of cyberattacks and the costs that businesses have to bear if they suffer an attack.
They also recognized the opportunity to make money, so they created a product to help businesses navigate the costs of a cyberattack.
Cyber insurance policies cover your liability in the case of a data breach. If customers’ data get exposed, like social security numbers, health records, account numbers, payment information, or driver’s license information, they can sue you.
A general liability insurance policy doesn’t cover cyberattacks. The policy only covers injury and property.
Cyber insurance covers your legal expenses, plus customer notification, ID theft plans for customers, data recovery, and system repairs.
Some policies also cover public relations costs to restore trust with the general public.
Be sure to fully understand what your policy does and doesn’t cover. You may want to show your cybersecurity policies and plans to your insurance company.
That could help lower your premiums because you take a proactive approach to cyberthreats. Bear in mind that your premiums will increase if you sustain a cyberattack.
The Top Business Cybersecurity Advice and Tips
Whether your business is small or large, you can’t afford to take business cybersecurity lightly. Cybercriminals are financially motivated to get as much data as possible and sell it on the black market.
It takes a small amount of money to get a big payoff. With that in mind, you have to protect your business from cyber threats.
The business cybersecurity advice in this article showed you actionable items to take. Create policies and plans, train your staff, learn about the risks, and perform regular audits.
Having insurance and a few backup copies of your data ensures your business is protected and you can recover quickly from a cyberattack.
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