29 August 2020
With more than half of all small businesses having suffered a cyber security breach and cyber attacks being the fastest growing form of criminal activity, it is important that you know how to prevent and protect yourself.
Unfortunately, small businesses are at the greatest risk for a security breach, especially those in the United States as it is a hacker’s greatest target. 4 out of 10 businesses reported having been the victim of not one but multiple attacks. This costs businesses of all sizes around $200,000 on average.
What are ways that you can keep your company and yourself safe from these attacks? What should you be looking for to determine that there is malicious activity occurring?
What is a cyber security attack?
According to Stanfield, “a cyber attack is the deliberate exploitation of a computer system or network. For example, a hacker may use malicious code to exploit a vulnerability in the system. This code is designed to execute a command that leads to a disruption in the natural sequence of events. As a result, the target ends up with compromised or stolen data. This can then be used for various cyber crimes.”
This falls under a large umbrella of different types of attacks. A hacker can infiltrate your business in a variety of different ways that usually go unnoticed to an owner or manager for an average of 101 days.
A large part of the reason that these attacks occur is because over 83% of business owners don’t have plans for dealing with security threats.
Hackers are able to assess the vulnerability of a business, they look at the ease of access and the potential reward. Many small businesses find themselves vulnerable to these breaches and the financial hit that may be taken through lack of cyber insurance or inability to return those assets stolen have put companies out of business.
What to look for
With such a large number of cyber attacks going unnoticed, it is important that you look for signs that there has been a security breach.
When a hacker attacks your email or social media account, you may lose access to your account, notice your password has changed, gotten an email requesting a password reset, or unusual email activity not coming from you.
When there has been a breach to your system account, things to notice are your website having content that shouldn’t be there or have started noticing random advertisements and pop ups and browser extensions cropping up.
One of the most devastating is when a hacker gains access to your direct finances. 95% of all reported credit card breaches come from small businesses. Signs to look for here are money being transferred to a separate account, suspiciously large orders you didn’t authorize as well as large payments never being received.
Lastly, and one of the trickier cyber attacks to notice, malware. When your system has been affected by malware, you will have an excessively slow computer, lack of storage space, your browser will redirect you to other sites without you prompting, and any security software you have on your computer will have been disabled.
Only 14% of all small businesses are set up to defend themselves against these various forms of cyber attacks, with only 42% of small business owners having invested in any form of cyber security.
How to prevent a cyber attack.
Luckily there are a lot of things you can do to prevent a cybersecurity attack on your business. This ranges from very low-tech preventative measures to doing risk assessment and hiring companies to insure and protect you.
Some solutions that both you and your employees can easily implement are: Making sure that you are keeping daily backups and duplicates of your data. Installing and regularly updating antivirus software, network firewalls, and information encryption tools. Implementing a multifactor authentication tool as well as cyber-analytic tools that scan networks, user accounts, and applications.
Justin Fier, the director of cyberintelligence and analytics at Darktrace, stated: “The latest cyberattacks speedily exploit vulnerabilities in computer networks — which [can be infected] like human immune systems, changing thousands of times per second — and can overtake even major networks in an hour and a half.”
When it comes to assessing the risk of a cyber attack on your business, the FCC has created a tool to assist. This cyber planning tool helps you strategize based on your unique needs.
Because this has become such a large problem that small businesses are facing across the country, companies have been created to actively insure and protect you.
HI tech Hui, based locally in Hawaii, is one of these companies that specializes in cyber security.
Other companies include ExtraHop, Brighthouse IT, and Darktrace.
Make sure that you are regularly looking out for these signs and protecting yourself against a cyber attack using multiple strategies.
Luckily, this is a completely preventable occurrence if you are adhering to the best practices.
Leave a comment below on ways you are working to protect your business in the digital space.