Protect your business from hackers by knowing some of the top cybersecurity essentials you should adapt within your organization.

By Peter Porr, Marketing and Brand Manager, ImageWare Systems

Both government agencies and big companies like Target have been known to fail when it comes to maintaining cybersecurity. This makes small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) even more vulnerable when it comes to data breaches.

Cybercriminals commonly attack SMEs because of their laxer cybersecurity measures. New business owners from various industries often have little to no knowledge of cybersecurity solutions and tend to make it the least of their priorities when starting. This is why many hackers and other types of cybercriminals target them.

In fact, research from the US Congressional Small Business Committee indicates that 71% of cyberattacks occurred at companies with less than 100 in the workforce. To add, Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report found that over 43% of system breaches have affected small businesses.

This is a cause for alarm, after considering the report published by the US National Cyber Security Alliance suggesting that approximately 60% of all small businesses fold up within six months following a major cybersecurity attack.

Fortify your cybersecurity by looking out for the most common types of attacks

Cybercriminals often tend to go for accessing sensitive business data like your clients’ identifying private information (names, birthdays, employment details, etc.), credit card data, and other info they can use to exploit your cyber vulnerability. Know some of the most common potential cyberattacks that can occur in today’s connected world.

  • Malware

Shorthand for “malicious software,” malware refers to any software or program including worms, Trojans, spyware, and ransomware. When an attacker encounters vulnerable networks, they often enable unauthorized access to unknowing victims’ devices.

  • Phishing

Hackers collect sensitive information such as credit card specifics and login credentials via fraudulent websites packaged to look authentic. Users are sent emails with links to these fake websites.

  • Password attacks

Hackers can infiltrate accounts and networks, then modify settings in three ways. The first one is through a brute-force attack or guessing passwords to gain access. The second is through is a dictionary attack, which involves the use of software or program made to try various password combinations of known dictionary words. Lastly, keyloggers pilfer data by recording a user’s keystrokes on sites and apps.

  • Inside attack

Rootkits are commonly used by perpetrators who have administrator-level access to specific devices to manipulate and collect user activity and sensitive data or change various settings.

  • Unsecured networks are vulnerable to Man in the Middle (MitM) cyberattacks

When clients and companies exchange data to transact, hackers who use the MitM method facilitate the attack by installing malware that intrudes the flow of information to steal sensitive information. Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks are often vulnerable to this kind of approach, as this is where cybercriminals have installed malware that can analyze data.

  • Malicious mobile apps

As workplaces continue to approve the use of private devices in the office, companies are becoming at risk of being infected by malicious apps that could easily be downloaded on Apple Store or Google Play. These apps have the power to monitor user info or spam the victim with digital advertisements.

  • Zero-day cyberattack  

Zero-day cyberattacks are major, system-wide problems that can go undetected by developers or cybersecurity teams for long periods of time. Attackers get a hold of your company’s cybersecurity flaws and use them against you in many ways unless detected and repaired.

Cybersecurity essentials to remember

Here are some vital strategies to prevent cyberattacks and data breaches on your small or medium business.

  1. Evaluate your cybersecurity system with available tools

Some planning and assessment tools that can help SMEs evaluate cybersecurity threats in their system include the Federal Communications Commission’s Cyberplanner.

Two other platforms developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) called Cyber Resilience Review (a non-technical assessment which can be self-service or done on-site by DHS experts) and cyber hygiene vulnerability scanning for SMBs can also help spot vulnerabilities within internet-facing ecosystems.

  1. Formalize and continue reviewing your cybersecurity policies and needs

A 2017 Research by Ipsos suggests that an alarming rate of over 39% of SMBs have defined cybersecurity policies despite its importance. Having formal policies for cybersecurity is highly essential for businesses of any size. It serves as a document that enumerates rules regarding digital security, controls, and security policies when it comes to the use of gadgets or mobile devices.

This can also include topics from onboarding new hires, access to sensitive company data, protocols on revoking access to business information upon employee termination, and many more. Since digital technologies and rules may change swiftly without warning, you should also regularly visit your policies to make sure that you are up to speed with the latest or emerging cybersecurity trends.

  1. Train employees on relevant cybersecurity policies

All personnel and employees within an organization are required to undergo some level of training when it comes to cybersecurity guidelines and best practices unique to your organization.

Some simple policies you could implement from the get-go include the encouragement to use strong, unique passwords for all their work-relevant accounts or files, training them on identifying the signs of a malware attack or phishing, and making them aware of cyberattack risks that can pose security threats like public Wi-Fi networks outside the workplace.

  1. Utilize authentic and updated antivirus, anti-malware, or antispyware software, and hardware- or software-based firewall system

Anti-malware software for small businesses is one of your first wall of defenses against viruses and many types of attacks. Such software can be found online with a simple search. Online software vendors regularly update these downloadable products with patches and various upgrades to improve numerous functionalities, so you should always be on the lookout for those.

Aside from upfront or maintenance costs, take factors such as privacy policies, customer support services, configurability, and overall system impact into account when looking for antivirus software.

  1. Employ additional data security measures

Protecting your business from cybersecurity threats should be one of your top priorities. Depending on the extent of protection you need after your assessment, you may continue improving your security measures with additional access-restricting features.

Some additional security measures you can employ to protect your business and client information further include the use of multifactor identification for accessing sensitive information, data backup solutions like online cloud backups and network-attached storage, encryption software, and password security software.

Conclusion

Digital threats abound for SMEs that do not place importance on data security. You do not necessarily have to splurge on the latest hardware, software, or dedicated IT service, whether offshore or within the organization.

Adapting the essential tips covered, such as accurately evaluating your cybersecurity risks and needs, establishing clear-cut rules and policies, training employees, using proven antivirus or antispyware software, and adopting additional data security measures for multi-layered protection as needed will work for increasing your defenses against ill-intentioned hackers.

About the Author

Peter Porr is the Marketing and Brand Manager for ImageWare Systems. He continually works on developing market awareness of, what is now recognized to be, one of the world’s leading Secured 2FA & Multi-Factor Biometric Authentication solutions in the world..