The threat of cyber-attacks is only growing — and so is their cost. As the FBI’s Internet Crime Report noted, cybercrimes resulted in costs of $2.7 billion just in 2018. Unfortunately for small businesses, cyber criminals often chose them as targets.
Small Businesses as Targets
There are two primary reasons for this: small businesses have the sensitive information these criminals want and often lack the security necessary to keep them out. In fact, the Small Business Administration (SBA) found that 88 percent of the small business owners surveyed were concerned about their vulnerability of their business to cyber threats.
Common Types of Cyber Attacks
While it’s important to remember that cyber criminals, and the attacks they launch, are constantly evolving, today’s small business owners need to be aware of those that are most common.
- Malware — which is short for malicious software — is designed to cause intention damage to a computer network, server, client, or computer. Ransomware and viruses are both types of malware.
- Viruses are damaging programs that designed to give criminals access to a computer system. They spread from computers to other computers as well as connected devices.
- Phishing uses either a malicious website or email obtain sensitive information or to infect a computer with malware. Because phishing emails are designed to look as if they’ve been sent by someone that is legitimate, users often click on the links or attachments that are found within them. Doing so releases malicious code that could infect the computer with malware.
- Ransomware is a particular type of malware that first infects a computer and then restricts any access to it until a ransom is received. Phishing emails are the usual mode of delivery for ransomware which targets software vulnerabilities that have not been patched.
Keeping Your Computers Safe
Protecting your computers — and your small business — safe requires a multi-prong approach. Because emails and employees are a primary reason that small businesses experience data breaches, it’s important to address them.
For Your Employees
Educating employees about phishing emails and good browsing practices is one way of doing so. They should also learn how to create strong passwords, avoid downloads of a suspicious nature, and ways to effectively protect sensitive vendor and customer information.
Good General Cyber Practices
Maintaining good cyber practices can go a long way toward protecting your small business and its computers. It’s important to ensure that each computer has antivirus software installed and that it is kept updated.
Make sure that your network is secure by safeguarding your internet connection. Use a firewall and ensure that sensitive information is encrypted. Secure and hid your wi-fi network if your business has one.
Plan to back up all your business’ data on a regular basis. Pay particular attention to critical data such as that included in financial files, word processing documents, accounts receivable/payable, electronic spreadsheets, databases, and human resources information.
Use only those credit card processors or banks that implement the latest and most trusted tools for securing payments. Work closely with them to ensure that your business is meeting its obligations regarding any agreements you have with them.
In many cases, a small business simply doesn’t have the additional bandwidth or resources to make sure that their computers are safe. Enlisting the professional services of IT professionals like Compel Consulting gives you peace of mind. Contact us today to learn more.