Author: Insider94 Staff
A major concern for businesses everywhere is protecting your data and ability to conduct business from cyber security attacks. But are you taking all the necessary steps to keep your organization’s data and online presence secure? As businesses become more reliant on technology, they also become more exposed to cyber threats, and being aware of all vulnerable aspects of your business can be daunting.
Keeping information safe and secure has been a challenging task for businesses of all sizes in recent years. Seismic shifts from in-person, to online, to hybrid workplaces forced companies to change, or at least reexamine, their cyber security practices and protocols. Far too often they weren’t prepared for what they found.
Cyber-attacks don’t just put your company, money, data, and IT equipment at risk. Hackers may use their access to your network as a gateway into the networks of other companies, ones whose supply chain includes your business. One study found that 60% of all companies that suffer a data breach go bankrupt within six months due to high costs of a breach to their financials, reputations, and business interruption. Surprisingly, most small to medium size businesses view cyber-attacks as a business imperative that must be prioritized, yet a recent cyber threat study found that 66% of senior decision-makers at small businesses believed they were unlikely to be targeted by criminals at all.
While bankruptcy may be the most drastic potential result of a cyber-attack, there are other consequences that a business could experience, including:
- Financial losses from theft of banking information
- Financial losses from disruption of business
- High costs to rid your network of threats
- Reputational damage after telling customers their information was compromised
Fortunately, you can take steps to protect your company by keeping up with the latest cyber security ideas. Here are 5 cyber security tips to keep your business safe:
1. Identify the Highest Value Assets of Your Business
A company’s intellectual property typically represents the highest value asset on its system as well as any trade secrets that form a
business’s identity. These assets are of great value and would cause major business impact should they be compromised.
Identifying high value assets are a critical process in developing any kind of breach-readiness or robust cybersecurity culture. The best way to determine whether something is truly a high value asset is by assessing the impact that its loss would have on your business. For example, personal information such as payroll data and employee records, as well as systems that store and process this data, are all examples of high value assets. Another example would be customer relationship management systems (CRM); without these, it would be difficult for businesses to retain and engage with customers.
The protection of high value assets is also of utmost importance, particularly those that reside with third parties or cloud platforms. These must be equally as secure as those used for assets within the business. Threat-actors often use third-parties as a gateway into larger organizations, knowing they don’t always receive the same amount of security. Constant monitoring is key in ensuring the security of these valuable assets.
2. Protect Assets by Updating and Authenticating
At the end of the day, protecting your data and devices from malicious actors is what cyber security is all about. To accomplish this, make sure your security software is current. Investing in the most up to date software, web browsers, and operating systems is one of the best defenses against a host of viruses, malware, and other online threats. Furthermore, make sure these devices have automatic updates turned on, so employees aren’t tasked with manually updating devices. Additionally, make sure all data is being backed up either to the cloud or via separate hard drive storage.
Another important way to keep your assets safe is by ensuring staff are using strong authentication to protect access to accounts and ensure only those with permission can access them. This includes strong, secure, and differentiated passwords. According to a PC Magazine study, 70% of people admit they use the same password for more than one account. Using weak and similar passwords makes a hacker’s life a lot easier and can give them access to more materials than they could dream of.
Finally, make sure employees are using multi-factor authentication (MFA). While this may result in a few extra sign-ins, MFA is essential to safeguarding data and can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful breach.
3. Monitor and Detect Suspicious Activity
Companies must always be on the lookout for possible breaches, vulnerabilities, and attacks, especially in a world where many often go undetected. This can be done by investing in cyber security products or services that help monitor your networks such as antivirus and anti-malware software.
However, trying to keep on top of potential cyber threats to your company can be hugely complex, resource intensive and expensive, but not if you allow a specialist cyber security advisory firm to handle this workload. A cyber security advisory firm or package within a Managed IT Services company can take this workload off your team’s plate.
Moreover, make sure your employees and personnel are following all established cyber security protocols before, during, and after a breach. Individuals who ignore or disregard important cyber security practices can compromise not only themselves, but the entire organization.
4. Have a Response Plan Ready
No matter how many safeguards you have in place, the unfortunate reality is that cyber incidents still occur. However, responding in a comprehensive manner will reduce risks to your business and send a positive signal to your customers and employees. Therefore, businesses should have a cyber incident response plan ready to go before a breach occurs.
An incident response plan is a documented, written plan with distinct phases that helps IT professionals and staff recognize and deal with a cyber security incident like a data breach or cyber-attack. Properly creating and managing an incident response plan involves regular updates and training. In it, companies should embrace savvy practices such as disconnecting any affected computers from the network, notifying your IT staff or the proper third-party vendors, and utilizing any spare and backup devices while continuing to capture operational data.
5. Train Your Employees
One of the biggest vulnerabilities that businesses face is their own employee base. Precise statistics vary by country and industry sector, but it is undoubtedly true that a high proportion of data breaches are caused by insiders who either maliciously or carelessly give cyber criminals access to their networks. In many cases, employee-initiated attacks can be traced back to innocent mistakes. For example, an employee might lose their work tablet or disclose login credentials accidentally. They may also mistakenly open fraudulent emails which can deploy viruses on your business’s network.
For many small businesses, cyber security is not necessarily a core focus, but it should be. As your business grows, you need a cyber security company that can grow with you. Focus on companies that offer a full range of security systems for businesses, including those you may need in the future.