Cyber crimes affect businesses of all scales and sizes. Yet more than half of small businesses do not have cybersecurity measures in place, due to the misconception that they do not have enough resources to be targeted compared to large firms and corporations. The lack of resources is precisely why small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) should invest in cybersecurity; financial losses following a data breach or malware attack could permanently paralyze their sales and operations. Beyond lost revenue, SMEs also run the risk of losing the trust and loyalty of their customers when client information becomes compromised.
Hackers are also becoming more sophisticated in the ways they launch cyber-attacks, which is why traditional information technology (IT) measures like installing anti-malware software are no longer enough. Companies need dedicated cybersecurity professionals. Such is the scope of the problem that becoming a cybersecurity professional is now one of the most lucrative careers in the digital era. Cybersecurity master’s graduates are earning $200K pay packages due to the high demand. In fact, such is the demand that many universities are including cybersecurity practices in related fields. Modern computer science degrees also teach students to detect, analyze, mitigate, and respond to cybersecurity threats alongside the more traditional subjects of programming languages and IT infrastructure. This forward-thinking field equips its analysts, consultants, and supervisors with both technical and real-world skills to develop business-specific security solutions.
As such, SMEs must also be critical and adaptive in order to address the ever-evolving threats to their devices, networks, and cloud-based systems. Here’s how the best practices in cybersecurity can benefit small businesses in their growth, sales, and performance.
Detecting and assessing potential risks
Rather than simply deploying the react-and-defend method when it comes to cyber-attacks, SMEs can take a more proactive approach by conducting risk assessment and management. This involves analyzing existing systems and networks to uncover potential anomalies and understand how previously undetected threats were carried out.
The process also asks business owners questions such as the following: What is the likelihood of exploitation from both internal and external actors? Are there any unfavorable administrative practices in terms of using hardware/software and accessing data? How can risk reduction be cost-effective without taking for granted high-priority security risks? You can combat the unpredictability of hackers and threat actors by covering all these bases before the attack even happens.
Training employees on cybersecurity
It must be noted that a significant portion of cyber attacks can be traced internally—by insiders who either maliciously exploit the information at their fingertips or inadvertently transfer network access to cyber criminals. Therefore, employers must raise awareness, educate, and train their staff on common cyber threats and vulnerabilities like data breaches, phishing attempts, fraudulent emails, and lost devices. The data security plan must be communicated to all employees regardless of their position, accompanied by periodic reviews of their compliance with security policies and authentication processes. Lastly, in the event that someone vacates their role, there must be protocols in place for them to surrender their access to business devices and networks accordingly to prevent cyber-attacks motivated by revenge.
Drawing up a response and recovery plan
On top of risk assessment and training, you should also consider the continuity of your operations in case a breach or intrusion actually occurs. There must be respective plans for incident response and disaster recovery in place, so you know how the attack will be communicated to and handled by the right personnel. Doing so also minimizes the overall financial and reputation damage by ensuring that you can return to work right away. If your resources are not sufficient for an in-house incident response team, consider availing of professional response management services from a credible vendor.
Protecting the business from ransomware
Ransomware is a type of malware attack that compromises access to your files and computer networks through encryption until a ransom payment is made. Examples of the ways ransomware attacks can spread is through phishing messages, social engineering, and malicious links/downloads/attachments. This is why it helps to train your staff in detecting and consequently avoiding sources of malware/ransomware.
Aside from disconnecting the device from your business network to prevent the ransomware from spreading to other devices, CORE Networks has specialized expertise in preventing and removing ransomware, as well as recovering backup or shadow files—helping your small business to bounce back safely and securely from cyber-attacks.
Guest post written by: Dana Reed