By Sherie Raymond, the data security writer, and editor at Origin Writings
It is a common story. A small to medium business believes that no one will hack them – after all, there is not much to steal and there are many bigger companies out there.
However, it is exactly because of this that hackers target SMBs.
But why would any hacker attack an SMB?
The reason is simple – if you capture data, use credit cards or similar, you are a target.There are multiple causes for hackers to attack an SMB:
- They have less security which makes them easy to attack
- They have sensitive data
- They don’t invest in cybersecurity
- They are more likely to pay a ransom to get their data back
- Hackers can breach into larger businesses that SMBs work with
- No expert IT staff
If you want to avoid being a victim of a cyber attack that could potentially be devastating to your business, look at some of these tips:
Install anti-malware software
This is the first line of defense that could stop criminals before they get into your computers. Anti-malware could stop malware from phishing emails from installing, thus preventing a data breach.
You might assume that your employees don’t click on phishing emails, but an astonishing number does, by accident or because they are not well-informed.
Backup your data
Even with the best security systems, you can still have a breach. This is why it’s important to store and backup all of your important data like the word processing files, employee and customer records, financial records, spreadsheets, sensitive files and so on. Backup your cloud as well and regularly check your backups for functionality. These should be stored in a separate location in case a flood or a fire happens – check your risks.
One of the biggest reasons SMBs are so easy to attack and breach is the software. Even if owners install an anti-malware or a firewall, they usually forget to update it regularly and they leave vulnerable spots for criminals to worm through.
This is why you need to update often – you’ll have better protection when your software is all patched up.
Educate all employees
The best way to protect your company is to educate your employees on the dangers and possibilities of cyber-attacks. Organize a seminar or a meeting where you’ll bring in an expert that will explain why a criminal would attack an SMB, all the possible ways he could do it and how to react in those situations.
This one might be a bit annoying for your employees but if you educate them on the importance of taking precaution steps, it will not be a huge issue.
“What usually happens is that employees use passwords like ‘DannyM1234’ or just their date of birth – something easy to remember and type. Maybe you do this yourself.
While it’s perfectly understandable, hackers will have an easy time breaching through. You might as well have no password at all”, – says George Lane, data manager consultant from Writemyx.
Request that the password needs to be a random combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers. Hire an agency to provide you with these if necessary. Another thing you could do is change the password at least every three months.
Include mobile devices in your plans
Mobile devices weren’t such a big deal a few years ago. However, nowadays we are constantly connected and an easy target through them. Require data encryption from your employees and insist that they don’t install sketchy apps, files or anything else that could be of risk to your company. Also, ask them to password protect their devices.
Document your policies
“With SMBs, protocols are often word of mouth thing. However, treat your cybersecurity with more respect and create a well-documented protocol of rules, guidelines and in-case-of-an-emergency steps”, – says Diana Bennett, data security professional from 1Day2Write and Academic brits.
Use a firewall
Firewall is another simple, yet powerful tool in stopping criminals. Install an external firewall and an internal firewall for an added protection. Don’t forget to provide protection for remote workers as well.
Maintaining your cybersecurity can be difficult on a budget. However, these are all simple and somewhat cheap steps that could prevent hackers from attacking you. Insist on security and pay rather for protection now than for ransom later.
About the Author
Sherie Raymond works as a data security writer and editor at Origin Writings. She regularly writes articles for online business blogs and magazines while enjoying yoga in her free time.