Going digital is hardly a choice these days; in one way or another every business today is digital. This has a multitude of advantages, and has opened a lot of doors for many businesses, big or small. However, the age of the digital business also comes with its very own challenges, and even small and medium enterprises aren’t spared.
Because data is the lifeblood of today’s businesses, those who don’t invest in protecting this data are at risk of losing or compromising it through cyber attacks. Some believe that small businesses need not worry about IT security risks, but this is far from the truth. In fact, small businesses are more susceptible to data breaches according to the 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report by Verizon. According to the report, 28% of data breaches in 2020 alone involved small businesses.
Common Cyber Attack Methods
Cyber attacks are designed to steal data, disable systems, or destroy information through unauthorized access to computer systems or networks. Malicious parties who attempt these attacks do so through a variety of methods, depending on the system, the type of cybersecurity, or lack thereof. Below are the most common cyber threats:
- Phishing attacks
These come in the form of fraudulent emails disguised as legitimate ones from people you know or people affiliated with your organization. These emails try to trick you into providing sensitive information like your passwords or banking information.
- Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks
This attack is designed to render an organization’s systems unusable, usually by flooding or overwhelming a targeted computer or network with requests until normal traffic can’t be processed anymore.
- Malware attacks
This attack makes use of malicious software to gain unauthorized access to an organization’s computer systems and cause damage within, with the objective of causing disruption or destroying information altogether.
- Insider attacks
These are attacks initiated by malicious former employees who still have access to your data and use it to breach sensitive data or cause damage to the organization’s systems.
- Ransomware attacks
This attack limits or prevents users from accessing their computer systems by locking files or devices until a specified ransom is paid. Attackers can encrypt certain files on infected systems and force users to pay a ransom via online payment platforms to get a decryption key.
How to Protect Your Business From Ransomware Attacks
Malicious parties have a host of tools and methods they can use to disrupt businesses and cause significant damage to computer systems. The good news is that you can protect your business from cyber attacks by following good cyber hygiene practices.
Below are a few tips on how to prevent ransomware attacks.
- Have a data backup and recovery plan in place.
Regular backup of data minimizes the impact of potential ransomware attacks and ensures that you will always have a copy of pertinent files and information. Store your data backups in a separate device, network, or offline so you can easily access it in case of a ransomware attack.
- Educate employees.
Employees can effectively stop a ransomware attack in its tracks—if they’re equipped to do so. Robust security measures should be complemented by awareness and training programs that will teach employees safe practices, warning signs, and how to respond in case of a ransomware attack.
- Control who has access to certain systems and data.
Not everyone in your organization needs access to every file in the system, but a recent study shows that 53% of companies have over 1,000 sensitive files exposed to all employees. You should actively manage access to information and limit it to those who actually need them. There are also times when employees need temporary access to certain files due to time-sensitive issues. Remember to revoke access once these employees are done with the files and no longer need them.
- Require strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.
Weak passwords leave a door ajar for potential attackers. Your organization should require all employees to create stronger passwords that are hard to crack. Multi-factor authentication, where a code is sent to a separate device or via a mobile app, should also be standard to prevent unauthorized access even if a malicious party cracks a password. Some organizations also make use of enterprise-grade password managers to help employees manage accounts and passwords.
- Layer your IT security measures.
A layered approach to IT security is the best approach to preventing ransomware attacks. You can combine certain tools and solutions like spam filters, a firewall, anti-malware software, and data-loss prevention solutions to beef up security and protect critical business data.
Monitoring your site uptime and scanning for potential security threats is essential to guarantee your online safety. For an online business, regular security checks are useful for finding vulnerabilities before they become a major problem. You might hire a professional WordPress management provider to ensure your site is updated and secured while you pay attention to keeping the business running.
Cyber security is a vital aspect of every business. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have” but a required part of systems and networks that will protect data and avoid costly business disruptions. Invest in a strong and reliable cyber security solution or hire a third-party expert if need be. Choose wisely, though, and do your homework so you know that the provider you hire is truly trustworthy and can get the job done.