Small businesses are under attack. In the past few years, SMBs have become the latest target of a wave of cybercrime—and preparedness is their biggest weakness. Nearly two-thirds of cybercrimes are aimed at small businesses. And the cost of a successful attack is huge: around 60 percent of SMBs go out of business within six months after suffering a cyber event. The average business spends $1,027,053 on damage control, not including the money lost to interrupted productivity and server downtime.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, so now is a great time to review your business’s cybersecurity protections and plan for new security initiatives. Of course, small businesses may not have the resources for a large investment. Therefore, we’ve come up with the simple, low-cost measures below to keep your data and networks safe—and avoid becoming a statistic.
The largest IT budget in the world won’t save you from the negligence of uneducated employees. From clicking on phishing links to sharing credentials to misconfiguring servers, your staff can do a lot of damage without even knowing it.
This National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, make the commitment to educate yourself and your team on the latest security threats: how to spot them and how to prevent them. Training is inexpensive and has one of the highest returns on investment of any cybersecurity measure.
Ask your IT services provider for help if you need assistance. Most have prepared presentations and handouts that you can use in your training modules, or may even be willing to lead employee training sessions on your behalf. That’s one less thing on your to-do list.
Update software and operating systems
Software providers don’t update their tools just to annoy their users. The latest updates often include patches to fix known security vulnerabilities. Software is incredibly complex, and security loopholes do slip through releases unnoticed, even after thorough QA testing.
Often these vulnerabilities are discovered only much later by white hat hackers or fellow developers—or after cybercriminals exploit them. For instance, you might remember hearing about 2017’s Microsoft zero-day bug, which allowed attackers to install malware disguised as Word documents. In response, Microsoft immediately issued a patch to resolve the issue and urged customers to install it quickly to avoid any issues.
The big takeaway here is that up-to-date software is essential if you hope to avoid data breaches. However, managing updates can be a big task, particularly if you rely on traditional, offline tools. If you’re having trouble keeping tools up-to-date, we recommend that you either engage an IT services provider to help or invest in cloud-based tools that will send updates automatically.
Secure your network
Would you drink unfiltered water? Probably under only the most dire circumstances—it’s full of harmful bacteria and other pathogens that could make you very ill. Similarly, you shouldn’t be browsing the internet without some sort of network protection. Unsecured networks are at risk of Trojan viruses, data breaches and keyloggers—computer programs that secretly record keystrokes in order to steal passwords, credit card information and other credentials.
There are many ways to secure a business network, but one of the most elementary is to install and configure a firewall. These devices act like a network filter, blocking suspicious activity while allowing good traffic onto your network. This protection is a must-have for any business with an internet connection.
Protect your data
SMBs face many threats; however, the most rampant is ransomware. Ransomware hackers count on the fact that they’ll catch small business employees off their guard; then they hijack unencrypted data and hold it for ransom. In the face of those threats, most small businesses cave in and pay off their attackers. The problem with this is that it incentivizes new ransomware attackers and makes the victim more likely to be attacked again—and of course, it costs money.
Fortunately, preventing attacks like these doesn’t require a herculean effort. It takes only two initiatives: data encryption and automated backups. Encryption obscures data from those without access, while backups allow you to restore your assets if data is taken hostage. That way, you can face down a ransomware attack without fear.
Consider hiring an IT services provider
There are many paths to cybersecurity, but for small businesses, the answer is often to hire external providers for their IT services. San Antonio SMBs are fortunate to be surrounded by qualified managed service providers (MSPs) that can help you invest in productive, cost-efficient measures to secure your network.
For instance, engaging an external IT services provider gives you continuous monitoring and issue resolution—often before an issue is even detected by your employees. MSPs can also help you implement the latest protections and ensure that they’re configured correctly. And they often cost less per month than the salary of a high-level IT employee.
Interested in learning more? Contact us now for a free consultation to discuss how we can improve your cybersecurity through our IT services. San Antonio SMBs are our forte!