Cyber crime is on the rise. When compared to the previous year, 2021 saw a 50% increase in cyber attacks. Each week, one of out every 61 organizations is impacted by a ransomware attack. And if you think that your small business is safe from malicious actors, think again. According to this study, 43% of cyber attacks were aimed at small businesses.
Perhaps the scariest part of the aforementioned study is that the vast majority of small businesses are unprepared for any cyber attack — both small or large. Even a small cyber attack can be financially devastating and impossible to recover from when you’re not prepared. It can result in a loss of trust and loss of customers. Additionally, dealing with a cyber security attack can overburden your employees and ultimately lead to employee churn, as well.
While protecting your workplace from cyber security threats may seem like an overwhelming job, fortunately, there are simple things you can do right now to thwart unwelcomed attacks. By implementing the following, you’ll be less vulnerable than the vast majority of small businesses to an attack. Let’s dive in.
6 Common Cyber Attacks
The first step to protecting your organization from cyber attacks is to first know and understand the most common cybersecurity threats. Here’s a look at the top ways that cybercriminals and hackers try to steal, expose, withhold, alter, or destroy your data.
Malware is short for malicious software. This includes ransomware, spyware, and viruses. Malware is malicious code that installs itself on your system with the intent of stealing information (spyware) or blocking access to files and/or programs unless you pay (ransomware). It can spread throughout your systems silently, creating vulnerabilities while corrupting your files. A malware attack is one of the most common.
In a phishing attack, a cybercriminal poses as a legitimate source and sends an email with the goal of getting sensitive information. For example, the criminal may pose as a bank or vendor and ask for information such as login details or a credit card number. Phishing attacks are usually in the form of an email.
3. SQL Injection
A Structured Query Language (or SQL) injection attack is when a criminal inserts malicious code into your server by way of SQL. A hacker can gain access to your server in several ways, such as adding code to your website’s search box. Once in, the criminal can get access to your sensitive information.
4. Man-in-the-Middle Attack
In this type of attack, a cybercriminal interrupts the flow of traffic during a transaction between a client and a host by inserting themselves in the middle. The criminal then disconnects the client from the host and the criminal pretends to be the host instead. This allows the cybercriminal to steal information from the client.
5. Denial-of-Service (DOS) Attack
In this method of attack, a criminal floods your server, system, and/or network with so much traffic that the system overloads and cannot handle or process the number of requests. As a result, your system shuts down or slows to a halt. This creates a vulnerability that allows the criminal to enter your network.
6. Zero-Day Exploit
This type of attack takes advantage of a security vulnerability that you already have but may not know about yet. While the hacker does not create this weakness, they actively exploit it so that they can gain access to your system before you can fix it.
These are just some of the most common types of cyberattacks. The list is ever-growing as criminals evolve and use more sophisticated methods of stealing or leveraging your sensitive information.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can protect your organization from these threats.
Cyber Security Tips for Your Organization
Let’s take a look at how you can protect your organization from a cyber attack.
Install an Antivirus on Your System
Take a proactive stance against malware by blocking them before they have a chance to enter. Install an antivirus to search for, detect, quarantine, and remove viruses in your system before they have a chance to do damage.
Train Your Employees
Your employees play a valuable role in securing your data from malicious actors. Your employees’ behaviors can either increase or decrease your risk exposure. For example, if your employees are opening phishing emails or visiting unsafe websites while connected to your network, they will be unintentionally exposing your entire system to hackers. However, training your employees in best security practices can dramatically reduce security risk.
Use Encryption Whenever Possible
If your customers need to share sensitive data with you, including their name, address, and billing information, be sure to use end-to-end encryption. This prevents a malicious third party from inserting themselves in the middle of your transactions.
Firewalls are one proven method for preventing attacks, specifically SQL injections. They can detect malicious requests and prevent bad code execution. Install firewall software on your employees’ devices to ensure that hackers are prevented from accessing your data. This is especially necessary for your remote employees who are logging into your system from their home networks.
In addition to firewalls, you should also ensure that the operating software on your computers is up to date with the latest security fixes.
Use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
A virtual private network is a technology that protects your internet connection by encryption. When using a VPN, those in your network can send and receive data in a secure way. The last thing you want is for your employees to use public Wi-Fi when they’re working remotely. This can expose your organization to any hacker in the area. By using a VPN, you’ll create a secure channel that will encrypt information as it travels from the employee’s device to your server and vice versa.
Backup Your Business Data
It’s also important to regularly backup your business data. This way, if your data is ever compromised, you won’t have to start over from ground zero. Be sure to create backups of your customer databases, your human resource information, and financial data. It’s also a good idea to back up this data on an external hard drive or in the cloud.
Frequently Update Your Passwords
Make it a practice to regularly update passwords and ensure that your employees are doing the same. This simple act causes your employees to come up with unique passwords for different accounts, which makes it a lot harder for a criminal to hack. If an employee is using one password across multiple devices and accounts, all a hacker needs to do is discover that one password. However, if your passwords change frequently, and at different frequencies across your accounts and devices, it’s harder for a hacker to access.
Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a security measure that requires two steps before granting access, for example, a password and a personal identification number (PIN). This method adds an extra layer of protection because it prevents a hacker who may know the user’s password from gaining access to the network. It’s unlikely that the hacker will have easy access to both the password and the second security factor.
By protecting your workplace from all security threats, including cyber, you’ll show your customers that you care about them. Use the above tips to fix vulnerabilities and ensure that your proprietary data is kept safe and secure from bad actors.
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