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Small Business Owner’s Guide to Prevent Cyberattacks: Cybersecurity Measures

By Hanna Welch | September 26, 2019 |

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Have you ever wondered why most of the cyberattacks affect small entities more than the big brands? Read this article to know how to avoid cyberattacks on a small business easily.

Have you ever wondered why most of the cyberattacks (regardless of severity and duration) affect small entities more than the big brands? For starters, with over 70TB of online traffic occurring per second, the internet platform has come to play a pivotal role in our modern-day lifestyle. Unlike before where new businesses would first get established locally and then slowly enter into the internet world, the present-day economy experiences a lot of businesses getting established online with no connection to any land-based offices. Taking that into consideration, the internet facilitates a digital world that propels every aspect of modern-day business.

Although the online-based business may seem to be safe from walk-outs, break-ins, etc., it is, nevertheless, influenced by besetting factors such as phishing, hacking and cyberattacks. Small online businesses are especially prone to cyberattacks looking to disrupt them or steal vital information that might derail or bankrupt them. In most cases, the stories that make it to the headlines are the ones that cover the major corporate cyberattacks. This usually puts the entrepreneurs at a false ease where they start thinking that it is only the big brands that fall victim. However, what is not known by many is that it is small businesses that are more likely to fall under attack. With over 43% of cyberattacks targeting small entities online due to inadequate or no security measures being implemented, cybersecurity should not be taken lightly.

There is a reason why cybercriminals go after small entities. One of those reasons falls under the budget structure of a newly established entity. Entrepreneurs, in most cases, have a lot of expenses to tackle, as well as decision-making issues to combat, when establishing a business. In such cases, cybersecurity measures tend to be shelved for later review. This makes small entities vulnerable to hackers. The risk of being attacked at an early stage is usually underestimated by small business owners due to the idea of not yet being in a stage of owning something that is worth being hacked.

However, in reality, if a hundred of small business owners have the same mindset and implement weaker security measures at early stages, then cybercriminals will prefer a bunch of small targets that can be easily hacked over a single big brand with much tighter cybersecurity. This means that from a hundred of small entities, hackers will gain more digital assets compared to one big enterprise. As the National Cyber Security Alliance explains, about 60% of the cyberattacked small businesses meet their demise within 6 months of take-off.

Did you know?

  • The DDoS and MitM are among the most used methods of attacks.
  • 61% of cyberattacks have a direct impact on the small businesses.
  • You can strengthen your cybersecurity by simply keeping your antivirus up to date, utilizing strong passwords, and masking your IP address, to mention a few.

How to avoid cyberattacks on a small business?

To be able to implement safety measures against cyberattacks, one needs to first understand what being attacked means. Hackers do not just hack for the sake of disrupting. They aim to obtain the business’s sensitive data, which they can exploit. There are various methods that hackers use to gain access to vital information of a company. Thus, in order to implement accurate measures against cyberattacks, you need to understand most of the hacker’s tactics. Although this is not an extensive list of tactics that hackers use when attacking businesses, it will help you identify the basic needs when implementing cybersecurity.

1. DDoS

The Distribution Denial of Service (DDoS) method is used to overload the targeted server in order to disrupt its network system.

2. Internal Attack

This method is used when the attackers have an insider’s credentials to operate their account that has got administrative privileges. By using a privileged account, the cybercriminals are able to access the company’s sensitive data. Note that an employee or a former employee can also be working hand-in-hand with cybercriminals, hence the need to implement a strong company security policy.

3. Phishing

This is one of the most used methods of hacking in the modern-day era. This type of cyberattack involves creating a “real website” (which is, in fact, fake) in order to collect payment details and credentials. Your company will most likely receive emails from these websites. Those will be offering services that might seem relevant and appealing.

4. Malware

Malicious software is used to infiltrate your computer system by installing a masked program. This program will then be used to block the user out of their computer and access vital information. There are many types of malicious software, which include Trojans, spyware, worms, and viruses.

There’s a little trick that you can use to avoid some of the popular cybersecurity breaches such as malware.
While you can easily block sites that employees shouldn’t visit, you cannot always protect them from malicious emails. The least you can do is educate your staff and introduce them to FileWhopper for their file-sharing needs. With FileWhopper, your staff members can easily interact and share large files without the risk of viruses and malware coming from external sources.
The service is easy to use, and there are no subscription or membership fees. Start by visiting www.filewhopper.com to get a feel of the website. All one needs is a ready file or folder that needs to be shared. To get things done, follow these steps:
· Select the file or folder on the PC.
· Use the FileWhopper app to easily upload the file to the site in the least possible time.
· Get a link which leads to where the file is stored on the FileWhopper cloud.
· Share the link with trusted colleagues or those who have authority to access the file or folder you share. Also pass along the password that acts as a security measure.
· Easy – peasy!
FileWhopper can be used even outside of the office. The Beta version is free without limits on the size of the files that you upload.

5. MitM

Man in the Middle (MitM) cyberattack methods involve the use of unsecured Wi-Fi connections. Hackers firstly access and install malware in such networks and then interrupt any digital data sent through this network.

Securing Your Network

The amount spent by companies on cybersecurity continues to grow. This is due to the fact that cyberattacks also evolve with time. They keep on upgrading their tactics, hence the need for companies to keep their cybersecurity up to date. For a small business to stand a chance against these attacks, they need to ensure that at least they have implemented the basic measures of cybersecurity. Subsequent research has to be conducted on the types of cybersecurity software the company plans to implement. Here are some of the basic measures to implement in order to protect your small business:

  • Install antivirus software: this is among the commonly used methods to defend against various malware.
  • Data backup: a data backup solution provides additional storage that is secluded from the main computer so that when your machine is attacked, it will be easy to restore lost data.
  • Encryption: encrypting your data using trusted software is among the best solutions on how to secure a small business against cybercriminals. Data to be encrypted includes, but is not limited to, financial statements and payment details.

Best Practices on How to Protect a Small Business against Cybercrime

The technologies may seem good enough to defend your small business against cybercriminals. However, human behaviour also plays an important role. Your lack of knowledge within the organization may attract hackers or unconsciously make your company vulnerable to cyberattacks despite having implemented top-grade cybersecurity. With that said, small business owners should keep their personal, company and employee software up to date. It is also advised to educate employees about the nature of cyberattacks and how to prevent them from the personal to organisational level. They should know how to detect intrusion signals and how to respond to them.

Intruders to a company’s network are, in most cases, invited by the insiders. Thus, it is vital to exercise formal security policies that emphasize protecting the company’s network. Although some of the measures may seem taxing and time-consuming, letting your employees know about their importance will assist the organisation. Measures such as 2-tier authentication and email spam filtering need to be communicated throughout the company’s team members. In the end, despite all of these measures taken into consideration, your small business can still be a victim to cybercriminals. Thus, it is important to lay your response plan and put it across the company’s employees. A uniform response will minimise loss by quickly identifying an attack and responding to it promptly. Owners should also select methods of advertisement as there are others that can also invite intruders. There are reputable platforms to advertise on as a small entity to grow your clientele base. Keep in mind that letting a non-reputable advertising company through your organizational back door may shatter your protection walls.   

Starting an online-based small business may be frustrating and taxing at times. However, overlooking cybersecurity, which is a common thing among entrepreneurs, has been proven to be deadly and cost a lot. Taking that into consideration, small business owners are advised not to overlook such measures and keep their small entities safe and shielded from attackers. 

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