Written by: Kevin Gardner
According to Barron, the cost of cybercrime topped $6 trillion in 2021. Many of those targeted were small and mid-sized businesses. The cost of a data breach can easily be enough to ruin a new startup. Keeping your business out of the firing line is easier than you think. Here are six simple practices that can keep your company safe.
1. Know How Cyberattacks Happen
Knowledge is the best defense. Many entrepreneurs fall victim to cyberattacks because they have no idea how their systems work or how attacks impact those systems. Consider subscribing to a cybersecurity magazine or taking computer literacy courses. Google the names of specific attacks like the common SQL injection. Learn how IT solutions such as managed detection and response systems (like Microsoft MDR) can help mitigate the damage caused by a successful breach. The more you know, the safer you can make your business.
2. Practice Better Password Protocols
According to a recent study, around 30% of all data breaches were attributable to compromised passwords or weak password protocol. Making passwords that are simple to remember means they'll also be easy to crack. Passwords should be at least eight and preferably over 12 characters long. Passwords should always use a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. Never write passwords on slips of paper that you intend to discard. Treat those passcodes like you would any other key. In other words, don't let them out of your sight.
3. Recognize Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are one of the most common threats. In phishing attacks, a hacker will pose as a legitimate entity in the hopes that they can con someone into giving up their personal information. Fake websites, bogus phone calls, and text messages are all common vectors for these attacks. Phishing typically involves something called "social engineering." The goal is to sound legitimate enough that someone will set protocol to the side and divulge sensitive data. Teach all employees to recognize the warning signs of an incoming scam and enforce proper phone and internet use protocols.
4. Prioritize Endpoint Security
Over the past few years, work has become increasingly decentralized. A consequence is that workers now operate from a bewildering variety of devices. Unfortunately, these devices rarely use the same quality of security software. They also tend to be used for both business and personal purposes. Endpoint security is all about enforcing a set of common security standards. Users are typically required to refrain from harmful practices like using unsecured WiFi connections. Users must also have strong antivirus protections. Your corporate network is like a chain. Don't let anyone be a weak link.
5. Have a Zero-Trust Mindset
"Zero Trust" is the official term for a new way of approaching computer security. The phrase is self-explanatory. Employing zero trust security architecture means assuming the worst of any new user on your network. Insist upon verified credentials from any newcomers. If possible, utilize multifactor authentication (MFA) to ensure that someone is who they claim to be. Take steps to limit their access to the minimum necessary to accomplish a given task. In an age when geography is no barrier to crime, a bit of paranoia is justified.
6. Physically Secure Devices and Data
Another vital facet of cybersecurity is physical security. Defensive software is useless if a device gets stolen. If you work in a physical office, invest in even a rudimentary security system to deter intruders. If possible, secure all devices in a locked room after business hours. Insisting upon the same procedures from remote workers should be part of your broader endpoint security plan. Consider storing your most vital data (especially client data) on an encrypted disc or offline completely. USB drives often come equipped with biometric locks, making enhanced physical security measures simpler and less expensive.
Just because cyberattacks are common doesn't mean they're inevitable. A keen eye and knowledge of the threats will prevent attacks before they happen. Keep these tips at the ready this year.