One common misconception in cybersecurity is that bad actors only go after large corporations and small businesses are not at risk. In fact, 85% of small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses, malware, or a data breach. This is not true - every business, regardless of revenue, industry or customer base, is at risk of becoming the target of a cyber attack. Hackers have become aware of this common misconception and have shifted their focus to primarily smaller businesses, knowing that these companies don’t have the most robust security measures in place. They also understand that small businesses are less likely to make headline news, resulting in their tactics remaining less publicly scrutinized. This obscurity allows them to continue utilizing the same methods for extended periods without detection. Keep reading to learn our top five ways to avoid being the target of a cyber attack.
1. Maintain up to date software
Bad actors keep an eye out for networks that don’t have updated security protection. Your business might have the bare minimum cyber protection installed, such as anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewalls, but these solutions have to be regularly patched and updated in order to do their job. Implement a comprehensive patch management solution and process to consistently update your Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems, as well as third-party applications installed on these systems. Ideally, operating system and third-party application patching should be conducted at least once every 30 days to maintain optimal security If these haven’t been updated, your business is at risk. Prioritize regular security updates or outsource your IT needs to a company that specializes in cybersecurity for businesses.
2. Educate employees
Your own employees can inadvertently contribute to some of the most significant vulnerabilities your organization faces in terms of cyber attacks. They increase the risk of a data breach when they log in to their personal emails and social media accounts on work devices, use personal devices for work-related tasks, accidentally open phishing emails, or use the same password for multiple accounts. Train employees to recognize email phishing scams and other security threats. Enforce a password policy that requires unique and strong passwords of at least 15 characters.
3. Transition to the cloud
Transitioning from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based infrastructure or Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions can significantly enhance your organization's security posture. This shift allows businesses to take advantage of advanced security measures and monitoring capabilities implemented and/or available from cloud providers. Additionally, cloud and SaaS providers can be responsible for maintaining and updating their systems, ensuring that security patches are applied in a timely manner, reducing the likelihood of vulnerabilities being exploited. Data stored in the cloud is typically encrypted, both in transit and at rest, adding an extra layer of security.
4. Have a response plan
The truth is that no business is completely protected from cyber threats. Because of this, it’s crucial to have an incident response plan in place. This plan provides guidelines that help teams prepare for, identify, respond to, and recover from a cyber attack.They help minimize disruption to operations in the event of a data breach or network outage. It is important that each member of your organization is aware of their responsibilities in the plan. A good way to test its effectiveness is through a tabletop exercise, facilitated by a trusted partner.
5. Invest in cybersecurity insurance or an incident response retainer
General liability policies do not cover losses related to a cyber attack, which is why cybersecurity insurance is critical for many businesses – no matter their size. Consider both first and third-party coverage. First-party coverage pays for losses, while third-party coverage provides protection if someone sues your company because of a data breach.
If your organization does not qualify for cyber insurance or if it is not the right fit for you, consider working with a partner to establish an incident response (IR) retainer. An IR retainer includes proactive security incident response planning and testing. It also allows your organization to be first in line with a top team of experts if you experience an incident. Finally, an IR retainer helps your organization invest in maturing your security posture because the retainer can be used to support strategic, continuous improvement of your security posture throughout the year.
Entara is here to support your organization by providing innovative cybersecurity and IT solutions. From security awareness training to backup services to infrastructure monitoring, you can count on us to protect your organization from cyber threats. Contact our team for more information and to learn how Entara can act as an extension of your team.