By Megha Parikh
Approximately one billion or more business records are estimated to have been compromised in the past 8 years. Even tech giants like Yahoo have been affected by data leaks. Yahoo reportedly lost user data of more than 500 Million users since 2014.
The point is: ignoring security can hit your bottom line severely, especially if you are a small business. According to Symantec, 43% of cyber attacks are targeted on small businesses. The attack rates have also climbed up significantly since 2011.
Why Target Small Businesses?
At least one out of every four small businesses is targeted by hackers or cyber criminals owing to the weak security measures they take. Some other reasons that induce hackers to target small businesses include:
- Easily exploitable antivirus software or perimeter defenses
- Lack of security monitoring for the website and user accounts
- Limited personnel to monitor abnormalities
- Little or no employee awareness about online and offline security measures
- No standard protocol to observe and upgrade the security measures according to trends
Types of Cyber Attacks
Here are some of the common types of cyber attacks and how they hurt your business.
Malware, which stands for malicious software, is unauthorized programs that sneak into the user’s computer. It performs unauthorized and undesirable functions that hampers the system performance and often causing it to breakdown. End result: a serious dip in employee productivity.
Cyber criminals are usually humans who deploy black hat hacking methodologies to steal valuable information from user systems. They break into systems using stolen credentials or create fake credentials to cause damage.
Insiders, employees or people from within the organization who replicate or steal sensitive information for selling it to outsiders for a consideration.
A software which does the spy work of watching or monitoring the user’s activity. The sensitive information so obtained may be used by the hacker to blackmail the user about personal life, financial security, reputation damage, etc.
A large network of compromised computers that send spam emails, advertisements, etc. to a network. Pharma attacks are a classic example of botnets.
The stealing of user’s identity through email is referred to as phishing. It is common in the banking and financial industry where the user’s credentials like username, passwords, credit card information, etc. can be stolen for online financial fraud.
How Small Businesses Can Stay Secure
With time, the security provisions that can keep eCommerce and enterprise websites safe from threats have also increased considerably. However, a lion share of the responsibility is still upon you, the website owner.
It is difficult to know the starting point from where you can set your website security. Here are some quick measures you can take up right away to turn your business website into a digital fortress.
Strengthen Access Controls
Weak usernames and passwords are the top reason why organizational and social networking breaches happen.
At least 70% of users have proven to be using a simple or easy to remember password since they forget complex passwords. Here are some samples of easily hackable passwords:
- Name + year of birth
The key to plug this loophole is to demand strong usernames and passwords from users. The passwords must contain a capital letter, an alphanumeric, symbol and words to make it difficult or even impossible to steal.
Update All Antivirus Software
Be it home or office, a reliable antivirus software is your first line of defense against security threats. Antivirus software ensures that your data stored in the device is kept safe from being stolen, damaged or spied upon by unauthorized programs, botnets or spyware.
Antivirus software is usually sold as turnkey solutions for a price with limited validity. Like your Internet bill that comes every month, you have to update or renew the software every couple of months.
Ramp Up Network Security
According to 2015 Cyberthreat Defense Report from CyberEdge Group, 52 of respondents felt that a cyberattack against their network was possible within the next year.
Setting up perimeter defense by ramping up network security is mandatory for small businesses. A firewall that can monitor and regulate the flow of data in and out of the network can help keep hackers and malware from entering the network.
Moreover, the firewall can also double up as a utility that can block certain websites of the network from where possible virus infiltration can happen.
Stash Away Admin Access
Your admin dashboard and controls are like the brain to your business website. Once it’s control is gone, you literally have no control over your business. It is exactly for this reason that hackers target stealing admin controls more than user accounts and their credentials.
For devices, Windows and Mac systems have in-built security measures that help secure the admin’s account using strong passwords. For web pages, HTTPs and cyberoam portals can ensure that only authorized personnel in the network has access to admin controls.
Get a SSL Certificate
Google started pushing for SSL encryption since it’s 2014 I/O conference. Website owners have to invest in EV SSL certificates that give websites HTTPS address bar and green padlock symbol.
Of course, they are not an additional expense, but a wonder tool to derive several benefits. Some benefits of SSL certificates include: higher search engine ranking, easy app approvals by Apple, encrypted data transmission and also improved conversion rates.
Take Regular Off-Site Backups
Regular offsite backups serve two purposes:
- You have a data to bank upon in case something goes wrong.
- Hackers will not have access to everything even if they manage to get in.
With cloud storage and datacenter capabilities improving on a daily basis, it is easy than ever before to move your sensitive data to an off-site data storage location. Information which needs to be archived but not required on a regular basis can be moved to cold storage without making it available to security threats.
Take Precautions Against BYOD
According to Microsoft, 67% of enterprise users are already using personal devices at work. 50% of companies will even requires employees to bring their own device as estimated by Gartner.
However, Bring-Your-Own-Device work philosophy is a double-edged sword. It is equally rewarding and risky. While it saves millions of investment otherwise required for buying employee equipment, it also creates a situation wherein the loss of an employee data will also result in loss of organizational data.
The need of the hour is a comprehensive BYOD IT policy that will keep devices and networks safe from external infiltration. For instance, you can have a system of registration for all devices that are allowed to connect to the network.
Secondly, the software upgrades for the employee-owned devices can be done by the company itself. It will ensure that the latest software is running on the devices preventing any possible loopholes.
Bringing It All Together
Web security is not easy. It takes time, effort and discipline to execute. Blue-chip organizations are increasingly investing sums of money to make employees aware of the pitfalls that ignoring security can bring to their privacy and also organizational data.
These measures, if executed will act as an antidote and also a barbed wire that will keep hackers away from getting into your system. Then, maintaining the website and its vital stats will be a routine chore without much difficulty.