Did you know that in 2021 there were twice more cyberattacks on businesses than in 2020?
In fact, a 2020 study by Positive Technologies revealed that hackers were able to breach 93% of corporate company networks. And 71% of these could’ve been potentially penetrated by an unskilled hacker.
It doesn’t sound that good, does it? As an online business, your data is your livelihood. So, it’s vital to protect it.
If you want to learn some of the best and easiest ways to improve your cyber defense, here is a helpful list of the top cybersecurity tips.
1. Secure all business-related devices
You have to secure them all, even that harmless printer. Devices like printers and smart TVs are embedded in your network just as computers. This means they can potentially be hacked and used to get to your data.
And who wants a printer to be their business’ downfall, right? To ensure there is no security risk, implement firewalls, secure your printing ports, and limit network printing.
On the other hand, if your employees use their personal devices for work, define what information staff members can access from their personal smartphones, laptops, or tablets. After that, install security software and password protection on their devices.
2. Invest in password management software
You’re probably sick of hearing this but it’s still one of the most important principles in cybersecurity. You have to use strong, unique passwords for every platform you log in to. Never share them or base them on personal information. Passwords like “mypassword123” or “mysuperstrongpassword!” don’t really do well.
Instead, use uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols and encourage your employees to do the same. Even better, invest in a strong password manager and take the password burden from the staff. Also, consider using two-factor authentication (2FA).
2FA requires you to enter two separate forms of identification before you can access accounts or networks. This is a great preventive tool against password fraud.
3. Alert your employees about phishing attacks
Phishing attacks can lead to money loss, reputational damage, information leak, and other negative consequences for the company. A single phishing attack may cost your business around $1,500 every time your employee clicks that link.
Usually, phishing emails contain links that lead to ransomware or other harmful programs. Once you click on them the program gets installed automatically. It can lock you out of your data and spread to the entire company network.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to spot a phishing email if you don’t know what you’re looking for. To protect from this scam, invest in a cybersecurity training program for your employees that’ll teach them how to spot and report phishing.
4. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
One of the easiest ways to secure your network is through a VPN. This is especially important if you have remote staff working over public Wi-Fi. An insecure network connection is a hacker’s dream.
A VPN will hide your valuable data and the IP address from any snoops or hackers on a public connection. Without the correct decryption key, a hacker won’t be able to read your personal information, and therefore, steal it.
Get surfshark VPN to protect all your devices and online business’ personal data. It’s a cost-effective solution for those, who regularly use hotspots, and want to remain digitally safe.
5. Develop a strong response strategy
Any online business striving to develop a strong cybersecurity base must include an incident response plan. In simple words, it’s a plan of action that you’ll take in case a digital emergency happens.
The SANS Institute, the company that specializes in information security, developed the Incident Handler’s Handbook in 2012. It is still widely used today.
Here is the 6 main steps for proper incident response:
- Prepare: Train your staff and have a digital emergency plan handy.
- Identify: Identify the threat and assess the risk.
- Contain: Isolate the breach to limit further damage.
- Eradicate: Get rid of the threat from all hard drives and networks.
- Recover: Restore hard drives and networks to their original state.
- Make conclusions: Regular log incidents and make sure you know what to do to prevent the potential threats.
An incident response plan can be the perfect tool to educate your employees on how to deal with possible future attacks.
6. Create backups and use cloud-based storage
Ransomware attacks can be costly for any online business. A recent study by Sophos revealed that 37% out of 5,400 IT organizations were hit by hackers in 2021. It means that every third company fell victim to a data breach.
Sophos also revealed that only 65% of data was restored after an attack, which means almost one-third of the valuable information was lost.
How do you keep your mission-critical and proprietary data secure? Small businesses may use an external hard drive, while larger companies usually opt for a cloud backup. In case of an equipment failure or a cyberattack, you’ll be able to access restore your data.
7. Know where your sensitive data resides
Do you know where your sensitive data lives? Most of us don’t know where our crucial data recedes, how to share or access it. Yet, t’s crucial to have an audit of your digital files because, in case of an emergency, you’ll be able to learn who accessed the data and when they did it.
Cloud-based storage can be convenient but unlike local storage, we can’t be sure our data is held securely. Contact your storage provider to clarify the location of your data, often scattered on servers around the world.
This introduces international regulations which can hinder data retrieval. Know where your servers are and you’ll know what law it falls under.
8. Conduct regular security assessments
Conduct regular security cyber checks to score and evaluate the level of your cyber defense. Once you identify vulnerabilities, you’ll be able to take action and prevent damage in the future. Security checks can either be done by dedicated cybersecurity staff or an external specialist, like an ethical hacker.
Ethical hackers attempt to breach your systems with the same methods commonly used by real hackers. They can operate a range of attacks that would otherwise cripple your system.
Fiding and fixing security issues has a long list of long-term benefits, including a positive impact on revenue and a company’s reputation.
It is easy to overlook cybersecurity if your business hasn’t been attacked before. And yet, operating an online venture without proper cyber protection can be like walking through a minefield. Now that you’ve learned the ways to stay digitally safe, you will be able to protect your business from all sorts of cyberattacks.