Cybersecurity Quick Tips

How to Prevent Cybersecurity Attacks

Whether it’s data breaches, ransomware attacks, insider threats or more, there are a myriad of cyber attacks out there to be aware of. Just thinking of these attacks can be an overwhelming and intimidating thing, particularly for those businesses who have experienced an attack in the past. Recovering from such an attack takes up time, money, and can be a major hit to your company’s reputation as a legitimate, safe entity to work with. Trust with other businesses and customers can be severely shaken following such an event. Obviously, these things are a headache and a half to say the least. There are, however, some things you can do to help reduce the likelihood that an attack will hit you and your business.

  1. Take on a need-to-know approach when it comes to your data – Limiting access to your essential data to only those who need to have access to it in order to complete their job functions can be an incredibly beneficial security step to take. This action can help to prevent insider threats as well as the threats posed by individual employee’s security levels. Say a hacker gained access to the account of an employee who did not use such a complex password (to be addressed in #4 below!), the hacker then has access to anything within your business’ network that the employee could have accessed. This is obviously not an ideal situation to be in, but it is even worse if this employee has access to every system that the company uses to operate. Limiting access to only those with a need-to-know helps to contain potential attacks.
  2. Regularly encrypt your data – Encrypting your data is the process of changing or scrambling it so that the saved files are not visible without the use of specific key which decrypts the data and makes it readable again. This adds an incredibly helpful layer of protection because even if a malicious individual finds your information, the encryption makes it so they cannot access it or do anything with it. Doing this on a regular basis will help you to have the most information encrypted possible.
  3. Use strong firewalls – Firewalls can be both hardware and software and either type can be incredibly helpful to have when it comes to protecting your business. Firewalls act as a sort of filter for the traffic coming in and out of your networks and the devices on said networks. They monitor for any malicious attempts and block such actions. They can range in price but are absolutely worth the peace of mind that comes along with a system that is filtering traffic to and from your site. Be sure to ask your local cybersecurity pros for their advice on firewalls.
  4. Educate your employees – Employees can be a company’s greatest cyber strength, or their biggest vulnerability and threat. Untrained employees are highly susceptible to different cyberattacks such as phishing, but the reverse side of the coin comes in when you educate employees well on cybersecurity best practices. Trained and dedicated employees will help you to detect vulnerabilities, be aware of what to look for when it comes to attacks like phishing scams (often the entryway for many malicious actors to initiate a breach or other attack), and how to help their peers in times of need. As the boss or manager of a company, it is up to you to act as a leader by communicating a strong, clear cybersecurity message, holding continuous trainings, and providing them with a dedicated individual or team who they can go to with any questions or concerns at your company. Many things work best from a top-down perspective, so be sure to be a good example of cybersecurity best practices to your employees and use real examples to help everyone learn.
  5. Keep everything up-to-date – Keeping your devices and networks up-to-date is another key area to focus on with your cybersecurity approach. Updates sent out by the manufacturers of devices or software are meant to make your devices safer, more secure, and to patch any vulnerabilities that were previously present. This is yet another free, simple step that can help you to secure your business from any threats that are posed against the devices if you had not updated it.
  6. Only work with other entities that hold themselves to the same standards – All of these steps you take the time to implement are very important. It is all for naught, though, if you do not ensure that all other third-party vendors you work with hold themselves to these standards as well. Any business who either has access to your systems or who assist you in some area of your business (i.e. a contracted out bookkeeping service) needs to also be an entity that utilizes strong cybersecurity best practices. Earlier this year, New York City Schools suffered a data breach which compromised their attendance and grading systems; these segments of the school system’s operations were contracted out to another business and their lack of cybersecurity best practices is what caused the breach. NYC Schools has since put this company on notice and other city’s schools have since split ties with the company. Unfortunately, this school system had to learn the hard way that you have to be careful who you work with.

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