5 Ways For Small Businesses to Protect Themselves From Cyberattacks in 2020
5 Ways For Small Businesses to Protect Themselves From Cyberattacks in 2020
In this article, we discuss five ways for small businesses fo better prevent cybersecurity threats in 2020.
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It wasn’t long ago that smaller businesses were more or less exempt from cyber warfare. Hackers, scammers, and other baddies simply preferred to target larger enterprises and other high-profile organizations because these are the players with more money and sensitive information to lose.
That’s no longer the case. Thanks to the headlines about high-profile data breaches and identity theft that never seem to leave the news media, today’s larger businesses typically have enterprise-grade security solutions defending their perimeters, so hackers have a much better chance of hacking small and medium-sized businesses (SMB)s. And that’s what they’re doing.
Managed service providers (MSPs) report that 85 percent of their SMB clients were attacked by ransomware over the last two years, and 96 percent of these experts predict that the frequency of these attacks will increase.
Unfortunately, falling victim to a cyberattack can be devastating to SMBs. Attacks can cause significant downtime, lost productivity, and even the destruction of key business data. On average, dealing with a cyberattack can cost a business $200,000. That's an amount from which most SMBs can't recover. As such, 60 percent of SMBs that sustain cyberattacks close up shop within six months.
That’s why all businesses, regardless of their size, need to improve their cybersecurity posture in 2020. Threats are likely to become more rampant and more potent and are even becoming harder to prevent.
Fortunately, there are many things that small business leaders can do to protect their companies from malicious players. Here are five ways your SMB can have a better security posture this year.
1. Get More Capable Endpoint Protection
It's considered a basic security practice to ensure all office workstations are shielded by some form of endpoint protection software, like antivirus products. Unfortunately, many SMBs resort to using free antivirus solutions, which often just perform basic detection and removal and are usually insufficient to protect against the various methods attackers can use against their targets.
On the other hand, modern solutions like Reason Cybersecurity feature several capabilities that allow SMBs to combat these threats. For example, ransomware — malware that locks users’ files in exchange for ransom — has become a major problem for SMBs. To combat this, Reason maintains a large database of malware samples that allows it to detect ransomware and block unauthorized encryption processes to protect work files.
Hackers can also spy on businesses by hijacking webcam and microphone feeds. Cybersecurity solutions like Reason protect against remote access tools used to take over peripheral devices like these. The solution also provides browsing protection through plugins that warn users if they are about to access malicious links and files. By keeping endpoints secure, you can prevent damage to work files, sensitive data breaches, and the spread of malware throughout the network.
2. Be Mindful of Those Emails
Social engineering attacks, such as spear phishing continue to be a major threat to all Internet users, as well as SMBs. What used to be easily recognizable spam messages are now cleverly disguised. Hackers have begun using advanced methods and even artificial intelligence to customize and personalize these messages. Even with some scrutiny, phishing emails can appear legitimate to employees.
To prevent unwitting employees from interacting with these emails, you should consider better spam filters and stronger protection for your email applications. Some SMBs rely on the "free" white-label email accounts that come with their web hosts. Unfortunately, these often lack the necessary spam filtering to weed out these phishing messages.
A simple way to get better protection is by using software tools like Google's G Suite, where you get Gmail's stringent spam and phishing protection while still using your own domain for the email servers.
3. Audit Your Devices' Default Settings
Another way hackers can get into your network is through compromised devices. Any device that's connected to your network or the internet — the Wi-Fi router, a printer shared on the network, or even your fancy new smart thermostat — can be a target for hacking.
Many of these devices are often set up using quick installation options that leave them using default administration credentials. Malware designed specifically to hack devices using widely known default usernames and passwords is surprisingly effective. For example, routers can often be accessed simply by using "admin/admin" or "admin/1234" combinations.
Once these devices are hacked, attackers can plant malware and remote access tools, which allow them to have sustained access to your network. As such, it's important to tweak these devices' security settings immediately, starting with changing the administrator login and password credentials, turning off the WPS connectivity option, and even disabling remote management options.
4. Use Stronger Credentials for Everything
Speaking of credentials, you should also consider beefing up your username and password combinations for everything that requires you to log in. It's pretty common for SMBs to use cloud-based applications and software. They're feature-rich and conveniently accessible. They even have collaboration features that allow multiple users to work on the same files and information.
However, one potential weakness of these applications concerns user credentials. Employees often use very simple credentials and re-use them for all their accounts. Consequently, hackers now have access to massive databases of previously compromised credentials that they can use to try and hack other accounts that happen to use them.
To make sure everyone uses beefed-up credentials, you can encourage the use of password managers like cloud-based LastPass, which can generate complex and unique passwords for every service that you use and manage them all in one place. KeePass is also a capable offline alternative. As an added security measure, you can also enable two-factor authentication for applications and services that support this functionality.
5. Train Everyone about Best Security Practices
SMBs also have to consider the human element of cybersecurity. The top cause of most security incidents is still human error. Some 88 percent of corporate data breaches in the cloud are caused by employees falling victim to social engineering attacks. Consequently, in addition to adding more tech-based security to your email and communication channels, it's also important to train and educate your employees about best practices for maintaining cybersecurity.
This includes training them to avoid phishing attacks, properly use security tools, and manage their access credentials. Employees must also understand the importance of keeping their devices and applications up-to-date to keep them free from bugs and exploits. Fortunately, most modern software can perform updates automatically and silently in the background.
Data privacy laws are also quite strict with regard to how companies should be collecting, storing, and using data. Educating employees about proper compliance can help your company avoid errors in managing data, which could possibly expose you to fines and litigation.
Building a Security-Oriented Culture
It's about time for all SMBs to commit to improving their cybersecurity. With hackers honing in on vulnerable companies, small businesses need to implement better strategies and tools to help them mitigate attacks. But aside from this, it's important for you to develop a security-oriented culture for your organization that keeps everyone alert and aware of the dangers that can beset SMBs today.
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