With major cyber attacks, phishing scams and data breaches making news headlines all too frequently in recent years, it’s no surprise businesses are buckling down on cybersecurity. Even smaller businesses have become targets for cybercriminals because hackers know they have fewer defense resources than large organizations. Regardless your company’s size, it’s never too late to learn how to protect your business from cyber attacks.
In honor of the annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) – a far-reaching online safety awareness and education initiative co-founded and led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – here are five steps for how to protect your business from cyber attacks:
Identify what Needs Protection
The first step in figuring out how to protect your business from cyber attacks is identifying the assets and systems that are critical to your business. These are things that would make it difficult for your business to operate if they were compromised, and/or high-value targets for cyber criminals.
Consider information such as:
- Customer or employee data, like email addresses and phone numbers
- Systems such as ordering, inventory or scheduling
- Banking information
- Intellectual property
Create a detailed inventory list of critical data and assets, provide appropriate access to it, and update it regularly to keep it current.
Protect your Assets
After you’ve identified your assets, determine strategies and tactics for how to protect your business from cyber attacks. This may include:
- Securing logins: Use strong authentication to protect assets to accounts and ensure only those with permission can access them
- Backing up data: Set up a system – either on the cloud or on separate hard drive storage – to regularly back up key files and information
- Regularly maintaining security of devices: This includes ensuring software patches and updates are completed in a timely manner
- Limiting access to data and systems to only those who really need it
A thorough training program that teaches employees the importance of cybersecurity and basic “cyber hygiene” will also help in how to protect your business from cyber attacks.
Detect Cybersecurity Incidents
A key element of knowing how to protect your business from cyber attacks is detection. Awareness of key threats will enable your business to employ practices and behaviors to limit your risk.
Common cybersecurity threats include:
- Ransomware: Viruses and spyware that can enter computers through emails, downloads and by clicking on malicious links
- Phishing: Fraudulent emails, social network posts, texts and other communication methods that trick people into sharing information they shouldn’t
- Scams and data breaches
Sometimes, detection is easy, such as when cybercriminals make their presence clearly known. However, we suggest improving how to protect your business from cyber attacks by using a network monitoring service and/or security software that helps to detect and notify you of cybersecurity incidents.
Respond to Problems
Even if your business has taken all possible precautions to protect itself from cyber attacks, incidents can still happen. If your business has undergone a cyber attack, you should be ready to:
- Resolve the problem
- Identify what’s been lost and who’s been impacted
- Continue operations while problems are being fixed
- Communicate with key stakeholders (customers, employees, etc.)
- Comply with applicable laws and reporting
- Report to appropriate agencies
If you don’t already have a plan in place for how to protect your business from cyber attacks, we recommend you develop one as soon as possible.
Recover and Improve
The last step for how to protect your business from cyber attacks is effective management of recovery efforts following a cyber attack. The goal of recovery is to move from the immediate aftermath of a cyber incident to full restoration of normal systems and operations, as well establish ongoing efforts for continuous improvement over time.
If you’re eager to learn more about how to protect your business from cyber attacks, please contact us today.