How to prevent cyberattacks: 10 tips for small businesses

Due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an uptick in online threats such as phishing scams and ransomware attacks targeting organizations in Orlando and the rest of the world. In fact, Cybersecurity Ventures projects that cybercrime will cost businesses $6 trillion this year. With an ever-growing threat landscape, having a robust cybersecurity strategy is as important as ever.

Being proactive is key, and in this article, we’ll show you how to prevent cyberattacks and effectively safeguard your business from increasingly sophisticated threats.

What is a cyberattack?

A cyberattack is an attempt by hackers to damage, destroy, or exploit a single or multiple computers systems or networks. Among the most common cyberattack methods are viruses, ransomware, phishing, and denial-of-service. By launching a cyberattack, hackers can disable computers, steal data, or use a breached computer to launch even more attacks. In some instances, cyberattacks can be part of cyberterrorism or cyberwarfare efforts. 

How can I avoid cyberattacks?

Cyberattacks typically occur because of poor security practices. Let's take a look at ten effective ways to help you protect your small-business network from cyberattacks.

1. Educate everyone in the organization

The simplest and most effective way to avoid cyberattacks is through user education. Your leaders and employees are the ones primarily using your computer systems and handling your data, so it’s vital that everyone is aware of how to properly do so. Set and clearly communicate basic device and data handling guidelines as well as penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies.

Further reading:

Cybersecurity tips to stay secure through months of remote work

2. Keep systems up to date

Software updates often contain essential fixes or improvements to the performance and stability of apps and programs. These also remove outdated features and provide critical patches to security vulnerabilities, ensuring protection from the latest known exploits. It’s well worth enabling automatic updates so these fixes are implemented as soon as they are released.

3. Secure endpoints

Unified endpoint management solutions let you centrally manage all endpoint devices that are connected to your company network. By managing your computers, mobile phones, and other smart devices from a single location, you can quickly detect and investigate suspicious activities within your network. This also allows you to remotely implement patches and roll out updates company-wide, as well as respond promptly to potential cyberattacks and other incidents.

4. Use a modern firewall

It's highly recommended by the Federal Communications Commission to enable your operating system's built-in firewall, or install a hardware or software firewall. This security system acts as a barrier between your network and other networks (such as the internet), filtering traffic and preventing unauthorized access to your computer systems. Not only does a firewall block unwanted traffic, but it can also block malicious software that can harm your PCs.

5. Enable multifactor authentication (MFA)

MFA provides an additional layer of security by requiring users to verify their identities before they can access your network or other online apps. Users can do so by validating two or more factors or characteristics that are unique to themselves. These factors include something they know (e.g., PIN or passcode), something they have (e.g., smartphone or smart card), or something they are (e.g., fingerprint or retinal scan).

6. Encrypt data

Encryption helps protect the confidentiality of your digital data while it’s stored on your computer systems or transmitted through devices or via the internet. The process involves scrambling plain text into an unreadable format, so even if hackers manage to intercept your data, it’s rendered useless without a decryption key. This method is invaluable in combating advanced threats and ensuring secure communications within and outside of your network.

7. Deploy secure web gateways

A secure web gateway protects your network by monitoring activity across websites accessed by users within your organization and filtering malicious internet traffic, all in real time. It immediately detects web-based and email threats and subsequently blocks them before they reach your systems. What’s more, some secure web gateways include features such as data loss prevention, content filtering, and other internet traffic filters.

8. Perform regular security assessments

Regularly check for security gaps and vulnerabilities before these are targeted by attackers. It helps to have a regular schedule for conducting network and security scans, reviewing access controls, and even assessing the physical security of your computer systems. Performing these activities will keep your network and devices updated, stable, and safe from threats. 

9. Monitor the dark web for compromised account credentials

The dark web comprises internet content that isn't indexed by search engines and can only be accessed using specific software like Tor. It’s where hackers often sell, publish, or save the data they stole from their victims.

There are tools and services that check if your company accounts and passwords have been compromised and posted on the dark web. These scan the dark web in real time and take quick and appropriate action to protect stolen executive, employee, or customer account credentials before hackers can use these to commit identity theft, breaches, and other cybercrimes.

10. Perform routine backups

If you do fall victim to a cyberattack and lose your data, having an up-to-date backup means you can quickly restart your company’s archive and, consequently, your operations. It’s therefore important that you employ at least one efficient and effective method of data backup. Learn more about the best backup solutions for small businesses here.

Should I invest in cyber insurance?

Cyber insurance can't prevent cyberattacks, but it can help you mitigate the costs that crop up after an attack or hacking threat. Data breaches, in particular, often incur significant expenses, including costs related to time and effort in dealing with the incident, lost opportunities, and regulatory fines. With cyber insurance, your business can recover more easily from an attack.

To help your business overcome the risks of cyberattacks, partner with Data Cube Systems.Call us today to learn more about how we can help protect your network and your remote employees from increasingly sophisticated online threats.