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Cyber Security Tips for Small Business: Be Secure Before Attackers Strike

cyber security for small business

Cyber security tips to protect your Small Businesses from cyber-attacks; reduces the risk of small businesses and creates strong cyber security protection for small business.

Cyber security for small businesses always remains a concern. Small business security has been a pivotal need to combat cyber threats. With the increase in online threats and remote workforce, it is essential for the business world to implement security policies and guidelines to avert online threats. 

Either it is a complex or sophisticated threat, each threat is critical and can impact business. Therefore, cyber security for small businesses is an inevitable part that requires attention.

Importance of Cyber security awareness for small business Security:

Cyber security for small businesses requires attention. Small businesses always spend too much time and money on cloud services, business services, and payment card processing. However, these small businesses almost overlook cyber security for their business. A single mistake can welcome unwanted attention from cyber thieves. 

Employees are found to ignore best password practices, system patches, software updates which causes risk to the whole organization. If there are proper security measures and security policy implementation then, a business could stop uninvited cyber attacks. Awareness of small business security is required for the reasons below too.

  • Many times small businesses are interconnected with a large organization so hackers target such small businesses to enter into a large organization’s network. 
  • Cyber attacks during the startup of a business can damage the reputation of a business.
  • Small businesses always deal with sensitive information like banking data, social security numbers, which need proper security. 
  • Small businesses are great in numbers and large organizations have the ability to enhance their security level and avoid cyber attacks.
  • Small businesses need to comply with the data security regulations as the cost of implementation of data regulation is much less than the cost involved in a data breach. Data breach includes data breach cost, reputational cost, operational cost.
  • In the event of a data breach, the network infrastructure and website go down, which causes revenue loss to businesses. Such businesses due to lack of resources can not handle such loss during such breakdown, as a result, they shut down the business.

The evolvement of Cyber Threat: 

We can understand the influence of rising cyber threats and it’s spread from the below statistics.

  • According to the Statista report, in the 2019 year, only the USA has recorded 1473 data breach cases where 164.68 million records were exposed.

usa data breach record

Source

  • According to the FireEye 2021 report, attackers take advantage of a vulnerability in the system and use remote desktop protocol, Windows services, and PowerShell to target victims.

fireeye report

Source

  • Following McAfee’s latest report, the Ransomware trend has become the talk of the town due to its different techniques and types, including Babuk, Conti, Ryuk, REvil, and DarkSide in 2021.

mcafee latest report

source

Types of Cyber Threats for Small Business: 

Different types of cyber threats can put small business security at stake and damage the reputation of a business. Below are a few threats that should be considered while planning about cyber security for business

  • Phishing Attack:

Phishing attack works on human weakness and social engineering. A hacker acts as a trusted person and deceives the victim by clicking a link in an email.

It directs to a fake website that looks like a legitimate site. Once a user login on such a site, hackers capture login and financial credentials and misuse them. Hackers can also lock accounts.

  • Malware Attacks:

Malware refers to an extensive term that covers many things including worms, viruses, spyware, and Trojans. Malware tries to steal data, modify the main functions of a computer, and can track users’ activities without his awareness. It can be spread via USB, internet download, hard drive, etc.

  • Ransomware:

Ransomware attack is the most prevailing cyber threat in the current age. It is observed that around 39% of malware attacks happened due to ransomware attacks.

This type of threat is entered in an organization’s network system and searches for data and encrypts it. The organization is then compelled to pay the ransom amount to recover the encrypted data.

  • Password Guessing:

Many businesses and individuals do not take care of their login credentials. They do not change passwords frequently as well keep an easy-to-guess password. Password guessing is a technique where hackers try to guess the password on the basis of an individual’s birth date, birth year, or any numeric password like ‘123456’.

Most banking, financial sites, or payment-related sites have a password policy in which a strong password is required. A strong password should include alphabets in lower and uppercase, special characters, and combination of numbers.

  • Insider Threats:

Insider threat for a small business is very perilous as such businesses do not have a policy regarding the access of network or system or multiple accounts. If any employee leaves the company, he/she may misuse the credentials and harm the company.

Insider threats can be from former or present employees, contractors, or business associates. They can access the company’s critical data. Small businesses should have a strict data access policy that brings security awareness among employees. It also helps employees to stop insider threats especially caused by ignorance.

Why should Small businesses bother?

Why security for business should not be overlooked can be understood from the above statistics. It gives an overview of the cyber threat outlook and its growth. Cyber thieves always target small and medium businesses as they are less aware and well managed regarding cyber security protection.

Small businesses seem a soft target for cyber attackers; therefore, to make small businesses aware of their security paradigm, we tried to focus on basic cyber security tips for small businesses to keep the business environment safe and help raise security awareness.

What can Small Businesses do against cyber threats before they approach?

Invest in Security Resources: 

The organization should invest in security resources like security tools that help work and create a better security environment. Only human power and money investment are not enough for an organization to survive in this cyber world. In the short and long run, cyber security protection investment will not go in vain.

  • The use of a firewall and antivirus vulnerability scanner can help you detect and prevent malware attacks.
  • Limit access to employees in an organization. Allow a specific person to access sensitive data and network.
  • Use an SSL certificate that encodes traveling data between the server and the browser, and all SSL certificates should be visible on networks.
  • Keep your system up to date with the latest security patches.
  • Keep your email server secured.

Appoint a Cyber security professional:

An organization should have the right cyber security expert in place who can monitor and manage security effectively. Cyber security professionals take care of IT infrastructure, data, and networks.

They react towards cyber-attacks as well as monitor attacks. Cyber security professionals should keep up to date with the evolving cyberattack techniques. There are few specific tasks that an IT cyber security professional should perform.

  • Should put a cap on access control and set identity and access management systems.
  • A professional should monitor application functioning and network performance to detect any unusual activity.
  • Should undertake an audit of cyber security practices and make sure they are compliant.
  • Deployment of endpoint data protection and arrange prevention tools to stop malware attacks.
  • An application should be updated automatically, and a patch system should be set up.
  • In the cloud and premises of an organization, there should be a setup of the vulnerability management system.
  • The disaster recovery plan should be shared with IT personnel.
  • Educate employees about cyber security practices and the detection of suspicious activity.

Formulate Cyber Security Policies to Protect IT System and Data:

Cyber security policy is necessary to safeguard sensitive data and should address each employee’s responsibility to protect data. Employees in an organization share passwords, click on malicious URLs, download file attachments from an unknown source, use unauthorized cloud applications, and lack encrypted files.

They put thus an organization at risk. The policy states the standard behavior of certain activities. The cyber security policy can be designed for remote access systems, wireless communication policy, password safety policy, digital signature policy.

For small businesses, the policy document contains few pages with basic practices, including 

  • Set rules for email encryption
  • Remote access of working applications
  • Password management guidelines
  • Usage of Social media
  • Develop an incident response plan
  • Device usage policy
  • BYOD policy

Cyber security mainly focuses on below three aspects:

  • Organizational Policy, which includes a security program in an organization. It addresses the specific plan for security implementation in an organization.
  • Issue Specific Policy focuses on the policy guideline on the relative issues arising out of certain functional aspects like encryption usage, email encryption, physical and digital access control, physical security, and data retention.
  • System-Specific Policy related to an individual computer system as well usage of approved software and hardware in an organization.

However, cyber security policy is required in healthcare, finance, insurance, and these sectors may be levied a huge charge if they do not follow it.

Implementation of Data Access Management:

Data access without any regulation can put an organization in danger. Data seems an asset for an organization in the current age. Proper access control and data management are required.

  • According to the Varonis report, 13% of average sensitive files are opened to global access. Small businesses have 11% of the company’s total files open to global access.

varonis report

Source

It means small businesses have unrestricted data access that can be viewed, modified, copied, and deleted at any time. The average cost of a data breach records at $5.85 Million in the 2020 year.

According to The Cyber Security Breaches Survey about UK Micro and Small business trends reveals that 38% of Micro and small businesses have identified cyber security attacks or Data breaches in 2021 year. Out of 38%, there were 27% of small businesses attacked at least once a week.

uk micro cyber security breaches survey

Secure Connections and Authorization:

After Covid-19, remote work is in demand, and it isn’t easy to monitor their working behavior. How do they share files? Do they ignore unknown links? Are they using an insecure WI-FI network? All these questions require proper attention from the organization.

A single mistake can cause data leakage. Employees working outside the office should ignore the insecure WI-FI network. Free Wi-Fi without any encryption or proper security measures seems a harmful practice. Cyber attackers use open or insecure Wi-Fi networks to steal data without the awareness of employees.

wi-fi networks

Cyber thieves use such networks to steal passwords and inject malware into users’ devices. Without authorized access to the network, the company’s Wi-Fi network should remain obscured or unreachable to unauthorized users.

It is necessary to have a password for the network allowing a guest access on a separate device and separate network. Remote employees should use VPN for accessing the network.

Educate Employees and Spread Cyber Security Awareness:

Small businesses should conduct training programs to inform employees regarding email scams, malware impact, password security, media storage devices, secure internet habits, social networking and sharing, physical security and environmental controls, data privacy and management, BYOD policy. The organization should give cyber security tips for employees to avert cyber risks.

Employees should be aware of the regulatory guidelines about GDPR, PCI DSS, CCPA as per the company’s size and nature of business.

The cyber security for small business policy document should be circulated among employees so they can get awareness about it. All levels of employees who are connected to IT and data management should be covered under the training.

Prevent Insider Threats to keep organization secured:

Insider threat refers to threats from employees who have system access and inside information of an organization. Insider threats can be former employees, temporary workers, partners, and contractors who access data, files, and apps. Additionally, insider threats can be done due to malicious employees, negligent employees, unsuspecting or accidental employees.

insider threats

Source

An organization should count and prioritize physical and intellectual property and understand the individual condition of each asset.

There should be a documented cyber security policy that clears the concept of intellectual property and employees’ rights. Keep track of employees’ activities from several data sources.

As per CISA, Insider threat prevention works on four aspects: Define, Detect, and Identify, Assess and Manage.

threat mitigation

Source

  • Define: An organization should define and discuss insider threats, which is the first step in the mitigation task.
  • Detect & Identify: An organization should detect and identify concerning behavior and activities. The process of detection brings susceptible insider threats to the attention of an organization.
  • Assess: The process of threat mitigation should compile and analyze the information regarding a concerned person to check whether the motive is to harm the organization. The process focuses on the scope determination of a concerned person and assessing a possible threat’s results.
  • Manage: An organization should have a goal of insider threat prevention and protection against such threats. A mitigation process should take measures upon identifying the motive of a concerned person that can cause harm to an organization.

Take Regular Backups and Reduces the Effect of Attack:

Besides the above steps, one last recommendation is to keep a regular backup of data. It is said that an organization should keep at least three copies of data on two different storage devices. Backup is helpful in case of a ransomware attack where attackers take charge of your data. The other benefits of regular backup are like

  • Fast Access to files
  • Protection against Power Failure
  • Antivirus protection
  • Safety against failed drive
  • Recovery in case of OS failure

Final Thought On Cyber Security Tips For Small Business

cyber security for small businesses is worth considering. An organization should understand the risk of external and insider threats. An organization depending upon the requirement should consider small business Cyber Security Ideas and appoint professionals like penetration tester, malware analyst, security admin, security analyst or architect, security auditor.

The discussed reports also show that small businesses always are at the target of cyber-attacks. Small businesses are negligent about cyber security, and it can cause harm to an organization.

According to an IBM report, the overall negligent cost has reached $11,450,000. We can assume that a single loophole in the network or system can change the game and put the organization at huge risk. The above cyber security solutions should every small business consider and take appropriate steps for cyber security solutions for business.

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