Cybersecurity threats are real; their manifestation can set a company on the path to extinction and drastically impact society. The 2021 Colonial Pipeline Ransomware attack that disrupted the fuel supply chain of the United States comes to mind.
Both small and large-scale businesses are constantly under the threat of cyberattacks. In the last quarter of 2021, businesses saw a doubling increase in the number of cyberattacks they experience weekly.
Cyberattacks are often financially motivated and exploitative. Ransomware attacks and DDoS attacks are famous examples. They can also come in the form of theft of intellectual property and identity.
A cyberattack on company data and devices is an expense no business manager would want to incur. Therefore, as a business owner or manager, you must find ways to ensure it doesn’t happen.
If you run a business, here are five proven ways to protect your company from cyberattacks.
1. Make sure to use encryption when dealing with sensitive information
Encrypting sensitive business data when sending or storing it protects it from unauthorized access or malicious agents. This is because it renders the information useless to any third party. Only you or someone with the encryption key can decipher the data. Encryption helps to reduce the risk of data theft, destruction, and tampering.
One security tip you must know if you use encryption is: to save your encryption key in a different location from your backups and operational data. They should be stored securely offline. This is to prevent unauthorized access to your encrypted data.
2. Spend time teaching your employees about cybersecurity
Your employees are your first and last line of defense. If they are ignorant of good cybersecurity practices, your company is at great risk of an attack.
Let them know their role in keeping the business data safe and ensuring the smooth running of business operations. Teach them good internet etiquette, how to manage passwords, and how to avoid cyberattacks. Equip them with practical knowledge of what to do when they encounter cyber threats.
A cyber-aware employee will save you more dollars than an unaware one with cybersecurity software. Invest in training your employees.
3. Integrate Multi-factor Authentication
Passwords are great ways to secure your devices; however, they are not enough. Malicious agents can still find their way around them. Multifactor authentication systems are the equivalent of a double-lock jam key to passwords. It is almost impossible for a hacker to get in.
Every device user must confirm their credentials before using the Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) system. Before using the device, the user must provide two or more forms of identification. One example is a system that requires a password and a code sent to a separate device before granting access to an online account.
Combining a multifactor authentication system and a strong encryption system keeps business data secure and nearly impossible to steal.
4. Stay tuned with the latest updates
Outdated software makes your devices vulnerable to cyberattacks. Software updates often fix loopholes detected in the software or strengthen it to make it less vulnerable and run smoothly.
Setting up an automatic system to update your software is the best way to prevent these. However, if that is impossible, a regular update schedule will suffice.
You must also be cyber aware. Stay on top of the latest cyber trends and seek current information on cybersecurity issues and how to deal with them.
5. Backup your data
This appears to be a damage control measure rather than a protective measure. However, backing up your business data is also critical to the smooth operation of a business.
A regular data backup prevents the chaos that results from data loss. When you regularly back up your company’s sensitive information, it becomes easier to recover in the event of a data loss or even a cyberattack. There will be few or no downtimes in operations.
A good backup system should be routine and have at least three different storage locations – an off-site and two other storage devices. These back-ups should occur daily, weekly, or quarterly, but never longer than a year.
The type of information your business generates will determine the right frequency for your backup sessions.
Protecting business data is crucial to how well a business would thrive in a world where a cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds.
As previously discussed, use secure hardware, backup and encrypt data, promote a security-focused culture, and use robust cybersecurity software that is up-to-date. These steps reduce the risk of cyberattacks while keeping the business running smoothly.
It is imperative to note that these processes are ongoing, not one-time events. Malicious agents will always find new ways to carry out their nefarious activities for as long as technology advances. Thus, you as a business owner or manager must maintain a continuous awareness and protection program.