Nearly 1 out of 2 U.S. small businesses suffered a cyberattack in 2017, according to a 2018 survey. And the average costs associated with cyber incidents among small companies was nearly $31,000 that year.
Beyond the direct costs of cleaning up after a breach, businesses also face reputational costs and other significant financial consequences. So, it’s important they do all in their power to prevent being a victim of cyber crime in the first place.
Cyber threats can take many forms, but here are five of the top risks businesses face, along with remedies for preventing them:
1. Phishing scams
Risk: Cyber criminals trick employees into revealing network login credentials, account details or other sensitive business information.
Remedy: Train your employees to be leary of emails and phone calls from unknown people requesting information and enact policies that restrict them from giving out account numbers or passwords over email or phone. “There’s no solution here but good security sense,” says Nick Merrill, founder of security consulting firm Broad Daylight in Berkeley, California. One 90-minute training session can be enough to teach employees to fend off phishing and other social engineering-type scams, Merrill says.
Risk: Hard drives infected with ransomware from a compromised website or an infected file become unusable. Criminals then demand money in exchange for a key to unlock the encrypted data.
Remedy: Preventing ransomware attacks is difficult, because cybercriminals are sneaky about luring people to the wrong websites, says Ron Cresswell, an attorney and research specialist with the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in Austin, Texas. That said, “You can render them ineffective by backing up all crucial data,” he adds. It’s important to use a data-backup solution that makes regular and consistent backups hassle-free. Spectrum Business Internet, for example, includes free cloud backup that provides military-grade data encryption and makes it easy to schedule automatic backups of your server.
3. Software vulnerabilities
Risk: Outdated software can make you vulnerable to hackers who exploit security holes and use them to break into your network or infect computers with malware.
Remedy: Make any available software updates promptly, Cresswell advises. Software companies monitor their products for security flaws and issue updates to solve those vulnerabilities.
4. Stolen devices
Risk: Laptops, tablets, phones and flash drives containing customer records, login credentials and other sensitive data can be stolen and sold or used by hackers to get access to networks.
Remedy: First, make sure all devices automatically lock when not being used and require a password to access them. But also consider using a solution that encrypts business data stored on work devices used by your employees, including mobile phones. There are several different encryption software tools available, but two to look into are AxCrypt and Folder Lock.
5. Weak passwords
Risk: Using easily guessed passwords such as “password” and keeping login credentials in written or unencrypted digital files makes it simple for hackers to break into networks and computers to steal data or install malware.
Remedy: Train employees to use strong passwords with eight or more digits, numerals and letters, capital and lowercase letters and special characters. Use a password manager software that offers business accounts, such as LastPass, that keep login credentials in encrypted vaults, instead of employees writing them down.
Staying Ahead of Cyberthieves
Cybersecurity is a moving target and criminals are always looking for—and finding—new ways to compromise businesses’ networks and data. For that reason, it’s important for business leaders to stay informed of the current threats by reading up on them and taking a multi-pronged approach to preventing them.
Adds Merrill: “There is no one technical step alone that makes small businesses secure or insecure.”
Call to Action:
To learn more about the security suite and cloud backup services that come free with Spectrum Business Internet plans, call 855-282-8458.
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