Guest post by Carla Lopez, boomerbiz.org
If you’re running a small business, you’re certainly taking advantage of an online presence. The internet and online sales are invaluable to any small business. In fact, some small businesses exist only online. As such, it’s important as a small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur to understand cybersecurity. By knowing the risks of cyberattacks, how to avoid them, and what to do in the event of a breach, you’re prepared to do business online in a safe way.
The Risks of Cyberattacks
You might think that because you’re not running a large corporation that your business is not at risk for cyberattacks. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Cybercriminals don’t target just big businesses. Often, they target any business that may be vulnerable. As a small business owner, you should be aware of five common cyberattacks.
- Ransomware: Malicious software that encrypts your data and puts it up for ransom. When the ransom is paid, an unlock code will be delivered.
- Phishing: Phishing is an act of social engineering that attempts to steal sensitive information from your business. It comes in the form of emails, in most cases, and is often marked urgent. It’ll encourage you to click a link that will collect information from you.
- Data Leaks: Any sensitive data that is accessed by an unauthorized party is considered a data leak. It can happen digitally, but most data leaks happen due to stolen work devices.
- Hacking: Possibly the most well-known cyberattack. Hacking is when your business’s IT systems are accessed from the outside and information is taken from your network.
- Insider Threats: These are employees that use their position within a business to leak information maliciously.
When you are the victim of a cyberattack, you can lose more than just money. You can lose all of your information, as well as the trust of your customers. This can spell disaster for any business.
Best Practices for Avoiding Cyberattacks
When you’re trying to avoid cyberattacks, you need to improve your cyber security. Thankfully, there are a number of different ways to do this in your small business.
- Encourage Strong Passwords: You, as well as your employees, should be using strong passwords. Strong passwords are a combination of numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and special characters. They should be hard to guess, and should never include things like birthdays or names.
- Use a Firewall: A firewall is going to help dispel many of the online threats that try to take information from your business.
- Secure Business Devices: This means making sure that they aren’t stolen (locking them up when not in use) and not allowing files to be copied to or from portable storage devices.
What to Do if You Experience a Breach
Unfortunately, breaches happen. There is no defense that’s 100% effective. As such, if you do experience a breach, follow these steps immediately:
- Change all passwords.
- Contact your bank and credit card companies.
- Consider shutting down all systems.
- Report the incident to the appropriate party.
- Tell all involved internal and external parties and provide details.
- Hire a third-party expert to assess the breach and advise corrective action.
- Document everything
No one wants to be part of a breach, but it happens. Being prepared for all things cybersecurity can help you stay protected, and can help you get through a breach if something does happen.