Risks abound in the modern digital sphere. Individuals and large corporations are both vulnerable, but small businesses may have the most to lose. Issues such as malware or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks can lead to significant downtime, data loss, and a host of other problems that are expensive to resolve.
Often, businesses underestimate the potential for damage; estimates from Tech Transformers suggest that smaller businesses lose an average of $713,000 per incident. This astounding figure derives from a combination of downtime and reputational damage.
In today’s threat-filled environment, it’s important for small businesses to invest in strategic measures designed to reduce the risk of attacks and enable a quick and effective response.
Below, we outline the types of cyber-attacks that are most likely, as well as the best opportunities for addressing these threats at the small business level.
Types of Cyber Attacks
Viruses are among the most commonly referenced types of cyber-attacks, but they represent just one approach to accessing your data and destroying your network. As such, a cybersecurity strategy that only prepares for viruses will quickly fail. The following threats must also be considered:
This attack involves an active effort to disrupt traffic for a network or server by flooding it with requests for data. These cause the bandwidth and random access memory (RAM) to be overwhelmed, potentially leading to crashes. Top DDoS approaches include volume-based, network-layer, and application-layer attacks.
A common but often avoidable problem for small businesses and their employees, phishing occurs when emails or social media messages appear to come from trusted sources but are actually malicious in nature. Depending on the phishing attack, the goal may be to gain access to sensitive information or infect a device or network with malware.
Often successful when accounts lack proper password protection, these attacks are simple but effective in the small business world. During a brute force attack, hackers keep trying passwords until one works.
These attacks typically result in the unintentional downloading of malicious content, often while visiting seemingly secure websites or viewing pop-ups.
As their name implies, Trojan attacks hide malicious functions within legitimate programs. Not only do the Trojans themselves stage attacks, they often create an opportunity for further damage by opening ports or otherwise impacting access.
This type of malware blocks access to sensitive data or even threatens its publication. Attackers then demand a ransom payment in exchange for returning access to the impacted business.
Actionable Tips for Cybersecurity for Small Businesses
Now that you understand the vast scope of cyber threats, it’s time to take action. Your efforts can limit hackers’ ability to access your data or infect your system – or, in the event of a breach, the right protocol can lessen the damage. We’ve provided several actionable tips, which fall under two main categories: prevention and response.
While no one approach to prevention will be ideal for every small business, the following measures are strongly recommended:
Often, unsuspecting employees enable cyber-attacks simply because they don’t know that danger lurks within their email inboxes or on websites that seem safe. Alert them to these and other dangers by providing a thorough overview of today’s top threats, as well as helpful cybersecurity tips for employees. At a minimum, they should avoid downloading email attachments. Company policy should also require all employees to use strong passwords and change them on a regular basis.
Keep Devices and Operating Systems Updated
Patches and other updates are essential, as they address new threats that might not have existed when your business originally invested in new devices, operating systems, or software. When possible, opt for automatic updates, which prevent the common problem of business owners forgetting or neglecting to keep systems up to date.
Try Remote Monitoring and Management
Many businesses benefit from remote monitoring and management (RMM), which brings a proactive approach to managing all endpoints. This solution lends business leaders significant oversight, which is especially helpful for companies with remote or mobile employees.
Install a Firewall
The right firewall can provide a powerful barrier against malicious traffic. Not just any firewall will do, however. Business and next-generation firewalls (NGFW) are the most effective, as they take protection to the next level with deep-packet inspection.
Planning for a Swift Response
Unfortunately, the best-protected companies still fall victim to cyber-attacks on occasion. Today’s malicious parties are so advanced and ruthless that it’s only a matter of time before any given business is affected. It would be foolish to assume otherwise. As such, it’s critical to prepare for the inevitable, as a swift response can dramatically reduce downtime and other breach-related problems.
Be sure to incorporate the following into your plans:
Invest in Data Backup
If data becomes inaccessible due to a breach or malware attack, the right backup approach can limit the damage. Many businesses utilize cloud backup systems, which tend to be cost-effective and may include excellent encryption options.
Conduct Tabletop Exercises
Management professionals should understand their role in the event of a cyber attack. Tabletop exercises (TTX) provide a powerful reminder. During these events, management discusses potential scenarios and what an effective response might look like. This process can also help with identifying and addressing current vulnerabilities.
Get Employees Involved in Digital Fire Drills
Your employees know how to respond in the event of a fire or natural disaster, but are they prepared for cyber-attacks? Regularly scheduled digital fire drills will help them respond according to your company’s carefully designed contingency plans. Should a real attack occur, they will be thoroughly prepared.
How NerdsToGo Can Help You Prevent and Respond to Cyber-Attacks
Our team at NerdsToGo can help you minimize the risk of cyber-attacks. We will also equip you to respond quickly and effectively should the worst-case scenario arise. From firewalls to password management and data backup, we provide a range of solutions tailored to meet the needs of small businesses and their employees.
Contact us today to learn more!