In our modern world, the importance of cyber security cannot be overstated. As threats to businesses continue to grow, it’s crucial to have a strong security solution in place.
We’ve all heard stories about companies facing hefty fines or even going out of business due to a simple system hack. The number of threats out there, from ransomware to phishing, is too great to ignore. These threats could cost you your livelihood. The key to avoiding such a fate is prevention. In this article, we’ll walk you through ten steps to ward off cyber attacks and effectively protect your business.
Understanding Cyber Attacks
A cyber attack is a deliberate attempt to exploit your systems and/or network. These attacks use malicious code to compromise your computer, logic, or data, and can result in your data being stolen, leaked, or held hostage. It’s essential for every business and organization to prevent cyber attacks.
Here are some examples of common cyber attacks and types of data breaches:
- Identity theft, fraud, extortion
- Malware, phishing, spamming, spoofing, spyware, trojans, and viruses
- Stolen hardware, such as laptops or mobile devices
- Denial-of-service and distributed denial-of-service attacks
- Breach of access
- Password sniffing
- System infiltration
- Website defacement
- Private and public Web browser exploits
- Instant messaging abuse
- Intellectual property (IP) theft or unauthorized access
Step 1: Educate Your Team
One of the most common ways cyber criminals gain access to your data is through your employees. They send deceptive emails pretending to be someone in your organization and ask for personal details or access to certain files. To an untrained eye, these links often appear legitimate, making it easy to fall into the trap. That’s why it’s vital to raise awareness among your employees.
One of the most effective ways to protect against cyber attacks and all types of data breaches is to train your employees on cyber attack prevention and keep them informed about current cyber threats. They need to:
- Verify links before clicking them
- Check email addresses from the received email
- Use common sense before sending sensitive information. If a request seems odd, it probably is. It’s better to verify via a phone call with the person in question before actioning the “request”
Leaf can provide bespoke cyber awareness training for organizations of all sizes.
Step 2: Keep Your Software and Systems Updated
Cyber attacks often occur because your systems or software aren’t fully up to date, leaving vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals exploit these weaknesses to gain access to your network. Once they’re in, it’s often too late to take preventative action.
To counteract this, consider investing in a patch management system that will manage all software and system updates, keeping your system resilient and up to date. Regularly checking the security of your systems and websites is also crucial. Tools like Webparanoid can help you analyze a website’s reputation, customer reviews, and security measures, ensuring you’re not unknowingly exposing your systems to threats.
Leaf offers patch management as part of their managed security solution.
Step 3: Ensure Endpoint Protection
Endpoint protection safeguards networks that are remotely bridged to devices. Mobile devices, tablets, and laptops connected to corporate networks can provide access paths for security threats. These paths need to be protected with specific endpoint protection software.
Step 4: Install a Firewall
There are many different types of sophisticated data breaches, and new ones emerge every day.
Putting your network behind a firewall is one of the most effective ways to defend yourself from any cyber attack. A firewall system will block any brute force attacks made on your network and/or systems before they can do any damage.
Step 5: Backup Your Data
In the event of a disaster (often a cyber attack), you must have your data backed up to avoid serious downtime, loss of data, and significant financial loss.
Step 6: Control Access to Your Systems
Believe it or not, one of the attacks that you can receive on your systems can be physical. Having control over who can access your network is really important. Someone could simply walk into your office and plug a USB key containing infected files into one of your computers, allowing them access to your entire network or infecting it.
It’s essential to control who has access to your computers. Having a perimeter security system installed is a very good way to stop cybercrime as much as break-ins!
Step 7: Secure Your Wifi
Who doesn’t have a wifi-enabled device in 2023? And that’s exactly the danger. Any device can get infected by connecting to a network. If this infected device then connects to your business network, your entire system is at serious risk.
Securing your wifi networks and hiding them is one of the safest things you can do for your systems. With wireless technology developing more and more every day, there are thousands of devices that can connect to your network and compromise it.
Step 8: Employee Personal Accounts
Every employee needs their own login for every application and program. Several users connecting under the same credentials can put your business at risk.
Having separate logins for each staff member will help you reduce the number of attack fronts. Users only log in once each day and will only use their own set of logins. Greater security isn’t the only benefit; you’ll also get improved usability.
Step 9: Access Management
One of the risks as a business owner with employees is them installing software on business-owned devices that could compromise your systems.
Having managed admin rights and blocking your staff from installing or even accessing certain data on your network is beneficial to your security. It’s your business, protect it!
Step 10: Passwords
Having the same password setup for everything can be dangerous. Once a hacker figures out your password, they now have access to everything in your system and any application you use.
Having different passwords set up for every application you use is a real benefit to your security, and changing them often will maintain a high level of protection against external and internal threats.