A Guide To Cybersecurity For Small Businesses
If you think that your business won’t attract hackers, think again. Cybercriminals target businesses big or small because of their apparent lack of IT security measures.
The year 2020 will largely be remembered as the year of the pandemic, and rightly so. COVID-19 disrupted lives and caused severe economic hardship, and continues to do so in 2021.
However, 2020 was also the year that cyberattacks grew 400% compared to the previous year, according to Cyber Threat Intelligence League, a collective of over 1400 cybersecurity professionals and government experts from 40 countries.
Having the right cybersecurity technology is a necessary part of doing business in today’s world. Do you have the multi-layered defense you need to truly stay safe?
Today’s threats are evolving…
- The global cybercrime industry will cause up to $6 trillion in damages in just a few years.
- The average phishing attack costs businesses $1.6 million – can you afford to pay that price because one of your staff members can’t recognize a phishing email?
- It takes most businesses up to 6 months to find out that they’ve experienced a data breach.
Even some of the best-protected networks in the world were breached. Companies like SolarWinds and Microsoft suffered crippling hacks that reverberated down the supply chain of their customers, including over 10,000 private companies and government agencies like the United States Department of Justice and even the Department of Defense.
Small to medium-sized businesses need to think past the size of their organization and realize that everyone is at risk for cyber-attacks: individuals, government agencies, banks, businesses, and more. Without the right tools and technology to prevent hackers from stealing your information, your business is left prone to a major data breach.
How Do You Know If You Are Secure?
Cybersecurity can be a complicated and scary subject that’s often ignored because of those same reasons. Most business owners cannot confidently claim that their business is secure.
Some of the questions you should be asking yourself include:
- Are my computers, servers, laptops and mobile devices secure?
- Is my network equipment secure? (Including Firewall, ISP modem, switches, and WiFi Access Points)
- Do I have appropriate Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware software installed on your systems?
- Are my desktops and servers maintained with regular patches and updates?
- Are my business’ passwords strong enough to prevent cybercriminals from figuring them out?
- Are my cloud-based assets secure?
- Are my employees informed about Security Threats and how to protect your clients’ data?
What Threats Do You Need To Protect Against?
A majority of cybersecurity services offered today include the best in vital technologies, from firewalls to anti-malware to data encryption and more. However, as important as this technology is, on its own, it simply isn’t enough. The key to truly comprehensive cybersecurity is simple, yet often overlooked: the user.
Cybersecurity gimmicks — such as “set it and forget it” firewalls and antivirus software — fail to account for how important the user is. Even the most effective digital security measures can be negated by simple human error, which is why conventional solutions are simply not enough to ensure your business’ safety.
Much of cybersecurity is dependent on the user, and as such it’s vital that you properly educate your employees in safe conduct. The more your workforce knows about the security measures you have in place, the more confidently they can use the technology in a secure manner.
Did you know that the most common way cybercriminals get into a network is through loopholes in popular software, applications, and programs? Despite how advanced modern software is, it is still designed by humans, and the fact is that humans make mistakes.
Due to this, much of the software you rely on to get work done every day could have flaws —or “exploits” —that leave you vulnerable to security breaches.
Many of the most common malware and viruses used by cybercriminals today are based on exploiting those programming flaws; to address this, developers regularly release software patches and updates to fix those flaws and protect the users.
This is why it’s imperative that you keep your applications and systems up to date.
Data Continuity & Technology Failure
Hardware failure causes 40% of data loss incidents. Hard drives fail every day for a variety of reasons. While some failures occur simply because the hardware becomes worn out, others fail prematurely due to external factors.
Similarly, software failure causes 34% of data loss incidents. Errors with your software can be just as detrimental to your data. Running too many programs at once, or relying on outdated or unstable software can quickly lead to a crash, which will often lose any unsaved work you had open when the program crashed.
Phishing emails are sent to large numbers of users simultaneously in an attempt to “fish” sensitive information by posing as reputable sources; often with legitimate-looking logos attached.
In a ransomware attack, a hacker gains access to an organization’s computer systems. Typically, an unsuspecting employee clicks on an emailed attachment that appears to be a bill or other official document.
In actuality, the attachment installs a malicious software program (malware) onto the computer system. Once embedded, the malware allows a hacker to access critical systems, often giving complete remote control data and access.
Hackers are getting more sophisticated. Today, the malicious code may be placed on a website. When a user with an unsecured or unpatched software program accesses the site, the malware slips inside that user’s computer.
10 Tips For Enhancing Your Small Business Cybersecurity
Use A Firewall
Your firewall is your first line of defense for keeping your information safe. A firewall is a particular type of solution that maintains the security of your network. It blocks unauthorized users from gaining access to your data. Firewalls are deployed via hardware, software, or a combination of the two. A firewall inspects and filters incoming and outgoing data in the following ways:
- With Packet Filtering that filters incoming and outgoing data and accepts or rejects it depending on your predefined rules.
- Via an Application Gateway that applies security to applications like Telnet (a software program that can access remote computers and terminals over the Internet, or a TCP/IP computer network) and File Transfer Protocol Servers.
- By using a Circuit-Level Gateway when a connection such as a Transmission Control Protocol is made, and small pieces called packets are transported.
- With Proxy Servers that mask your true network address and capture every message that enters or leaves your network.
- Using Stateful Inspection or Dynamic Packet Filtering to compare a packet’s critical data parts. These are compared to a trusted information database to decide if the information is authorized.
Train Your Staff
Your staff can have a significant effect on your cybersecurity – either they know enough to keep your assets secure, or they don’t, and therefore present a serious threat to your security.
So, which is it? Do your employees have the knowledge they need to spot cybercrime scams, avoid common pitfalls and keep your data secure?
If you’re not sure, then they may need training. Security awareness training helps your employees know how to recognize and avoid being victimized by phishing emails and scam websites.
They learn how to handle security incidents when they occur. If your employees are informed about what to watch for, how to block attempts, and where they can turn for help, this alone is worth the investment.
How Do I Train My Employees For Cyber Security?
A comprehensive cybersecurity training program will teach your staff how to handle a range of potential situations:
- How to identify and address suspicious emails, phishing attempts, social engineering tactics, and more.
- How to use business technology without exposing data and other assets to external threats by accident.
- How to respond when you suspect that an attack is occurring or has occurred.
Strengthen Your Passwords
Passwords remain a go-to tool for protecting your data, applications, and workstations.
They also remain a common cybersecurity weakness because of the careless way employees go about trying to remember their login information. Weak passwords are easy to compromise, and if that’s all that stands between your data in the cloud and in applications, you could be at serious risk for a catastrophic breach.
That’s why protecting your login processes with an additional layer of security – multi-factor authentication (MFA) – is recommended. MFA is a superior way to keep your data more secure — after all, it blocks 99.9% of identity-based attacks.
MFA requires the user to utilize two methods to confirm that they are the rightful account owner. It is an available security feature in many popular applications and software suites.
There are three categories of information that can be used in this process:
- Something you have: Includes a mobile phone, app, or generated code
- Something you know: A family member’s name, city of birth, pin, or phrase
- Something you are: Includes fingerprints and facial recognition
Protect Mobile Devices
Implement Mobile Device Management and Bring Your Own Device policies that allow employees to use their own devices in combination with your business’ without compromising your security:
- Require password protection and MFA for mobile devices.
- Deploy remote access software that allows you to locate lost/stolen devices, and remotely wipe their data if need be.
- Develop a whitelist of apps that are approved for business data access.
And don’t limit yourself to desktops, laptops, and phones – there’s more out there for you to take advantage of. Have you considered what the Internet of Things and wearable devices can do for workplace efficiency? Now’s the time to get on board – there will be 35.82 billion smart devices installed worldwide by 2021 and 75.44 billion by 2025.
Manage Account Lifecycles And Access
This is one of the more basic steps on the list, but no less important. It can’t really be automated or outsourced to any technological aids; it’s just about doing the work. You need to have a carefully implemented process to track the lifecycle of accounts on your network.
- Follow a careful system for how accounts are created for new members, how their security is maintained and verified through their life, and how they are removed when no longer needed.
- Implement secure configuration settings (complex passwords, MFA, etc.) for all accounts.
- Implement controls for login and use, such as lockouts for too many unsuccessful logins, unsuccessful login alerts, and automatic log-off after a period of inactivity
Protect Your Wireless Networks
Wi-Fi is a necessary part of doing business. Your staff cannot go without it, so it becomes your responsibility to make sure it’s secured, simple as that.
- Turn off broadcast so that your SSID is not available for others to see.
- Use WPA2-Enterprise security, which forces per-user authentication via RADIUS for access.
- Double-check your radio broadcast levels at default to make sure they don’t extend outside your building.
- Create a Guest Network that’s segmented and has a limited bandwidth so that those visiting your building don’t have any chance of access to your data.
- Monitor your network, and log events to track any activity by your employees and other contacts with network access.
Limit Unnecessary Physical Access
Your cybersecurity measures won’t amount to much if your laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices are left out in the open for anyone to take.
It’s one thing for a cybercriminal to hack into your system remotely. It can be significantly easier if they’re doing so directly on a business device. That’s why you need to:
- Keep business devices under lock and key when not in use.
- Maintain a detailed inventory of who has authorized use for specific business devices.
- Don’t leave the login information on a sticky note on the keyboard of the device.
Follow Payment Card Best Practices
If you accept payment through credit and debit cards, make sure to follow established security policies and practices to mitigate any potential risks.
- Work with banks and other financial industry contacts to make sure you’ve implemented the right cybersecurity tools and anti-fraud services.
- Double-check your compliance requirements for FINRA, GLBA, and SOX.
- Segment networks involving a point of sales and payment systems from any unnecessary aspects of your IT infrastructure. No unnecessary software or web access should overlap with these systems.
Keep Your Programs Up To Date
Patch management is a simple yet critical part of effective cybersecurity. If a software provider releases a security patch, it’s not something you can wait to address — it needs to be installed right away to ensure your systems aren’t vulnerable to a cybercrime attack.
Work With Cybersecurity Experts
When you’re not sure if you have the skills or knowledge to get the job done, what can you do? Consult with cybersecurity professionals.
The cybersecurity professional’s job is to manage your cybersecurity, simple as that. Instead of needing an employee or internal team to keep your tech and data secure, you let someone else with the skills and knowledge do it for you:
- Cybersecurity professionals perform regular vulnerability testing as per industry standards to ensure you aren’t dealing with overlooked cybersecurity weaknesses.
- Cybersecurity professionals help you plan and achieve a secure environment to work in.
- Cybersecurity professionals provide ongoing service and support for any security-related concerns you may have.
The TREYSTA Approach To Cybersecurity For Small Businesses
The TREYSTA Technology Management team believes that the only way to effectively develop cybersecurity is through a fully managed approach that builds a culture of best practices, in combination with a range of carefully chosen technologies.
We can provide managed security solutions that address your company’s specific needs, and we can do this in a cost-effective manner. We work with industry-leading cybersecurity partners to deliver reliable services backed by powerful solutions:
- ID Agent
Our team has the expertise and experience you need to totally offload your cybersecurity concerns. We’ll manage your IT environment, keeping everything up to date, secure, and optimized.
Don’t let your cybersecurity suffer, and don’t assume you have to handle it all on your own. Get in touch with TREYSTA Technology Management to start enhancing your small business cybersecurity.