How to Prevent Small Business Data Breaches & Malware Threats

While some of the most devastating cyber-attacks of the past few years have targeted major corporations, recent evidence suggests that small businesses maybe even more at risk than larger enterprises. A concerning report from Beazley Breach Response Services suggests that over 70 percent of ransomware attacks in 2018 involved small businesses, and most victims were hit with demands averaging $116,000.

Malware attacks are problematic for organizations of all sizes and in all sectors, but small businesses are particularly at risk. While larger companies often have the resources to respond quickly and effectively to attacks, small businesses may struggle to recover. Even seemingly small demands can prove devastating. However, such demands are often far from small. In the aforementioned study, for example, the highest demand totaled $8.5 million.

If there’s a silver lining to this alarming trend, it’s that small businesses hold the greatest potential for security improvement. Currently, many lack even the most basic security protocol. This leaves them vulnerable to attacks that more established companies could easily avoid. With an increased emphasis on security, many small businesses could sidestep the current glut of attacks.

Are you ready to secure your business but not quite sure where to start? Below, we offer insight into the most effective data breach and ransomware prevention methods.

Get a Handle on Remote Desktop Protocol

According to the Beazley researchers, the small businesses most at risk of suffering ransomware attacks fail to lock down Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) – a popular option among those looking to control office computers from remote locations. This approach may be convenient, but it’s also becoming increasingly vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Ransomware variant SamSam, for example, has caused huge problems for the healthcare industry by using brute force to relentlessly attack RDP connections.

To avoid RDP attacks, small businesses must lock down their systems to ensure that only authorized users gain access. Strong passwords form the basis of this effort, but that’s just the beginning. Network Level Authentication should be enabled, and RDP ports should be carefully placed to avoid scanners. Often, the most effective security solutions involve strictly limited access for specific users and IPs.

Implement Employee Training Programs

Hackers often obtain access to sensitive information via poorly-trained employees who may not know how to spot risks or respond appropriately. Any employee can be the target of a ransomware attack, so all should be trained thoroughly on the associated risks. Ideally, employees will be able to identify phishing emails and other attack efforts.

Take Advantage of Spam Filters and Other Inbound Technologies

Even the most discerning employees may eventually fall victim to clever ransomware schemes. The fewer problematic emails they encounter, the less likely they are to give up sensitive information. Options such as Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) or the Sender Policy Framework (SPF) can authenticate emails to reduce the potential for unauthorized access.

The Importance of Small Business Firewall Installation

In the battle against ransomware, firewalls can serve as your company’s most reliable frontline. Ideally, these firewalls will be carefully configured to block access to IP addresses that are known to be malicious. However, not all firewalls are of equal quality; aim for a high-performance edition that provides comprehensive coverage to address the concerns of today’s mobile age.

Never Pay Ransoms

Despite your efforts to keep malicious parties at bay, you may eventually be hit with a ransomware attack. How you respond to such incidents could determine whether your small business survives.

If you only gain one takeaway from our advice, it should be this: avoid paying ransoms at all costs. This may seem like the easy way out in the midst of an attack, especially if you possess sufficient cash flow. However, in the long-term, it could make you a target for repeat attacks. Furthermore, your willingness to pay the demanded ransom will not guarantee returned access to essential files.

Arm Yourself Against Cyber Threats with the Help of NerdsToGo

In today’s threatening digital environment, there is no room for passivity in small business cybersecurity. By implementing a few simple security measures, you can fend off a myriad of potential attacks. The team at NerdsToGo is happy to guide you every step of the way. We can provide the best on-site and off-site IT services including data protection, firewall security installation, and computer business software set-up. Our Nerds can help you develop a comprehensive plan to ramp up your data security efforts. Contact us today to learn more about our small business cybersecurity services.