Research by Ponemon Institute into the state of small business cybersecurity has some staggering data that would make any IT professional cringe: In 2017, cyber attacks cost small and medium-sized businesses an average of $2,235,000, and Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that by 2022, cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually.
Although these numbers prove that the business world has a long way to go on the cybersecurity front, we have tried and true methods for ensuring that your business doesn’t suffer the heavy cost of a security breach .
1. Establish a Unified Threat Management System
No security system should exist in a silo. Businesses with multiple satellite offices often end up wasting significant time and effort managing the disparate security systems of each location. Companies need to rethink their cybersecurity strategy by taking a unified approach to threat management.
Consider solutions that centralize your security and let you manage your infrastructure remotely through a security provider. Centrally-managed software gives administrators a single console to manage all of their network’s antivirus, software updates, and security logs—perfect for real-time threat detection.
One example is to start monitoring encrypted web traffic. HTTPS has long been see as an easy tool for security, and where trust blooms, so too does opportunity. Today, HTTPS traffic is also the new frontier for malware. Virus and malware writers are encrypting their payload to allow them to circumvent your firewall. A UTM (Unified Threat Management) device that can inspect that traffic will make you much more secure.
It is said, “One ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This phrase could also be translated as, “One hour of auditing and updating your network is worth thousands of dollars saved in cyber attacks.” Regularly updating your software should be second nature to any business practice. It improves bugs, allows for faster speeds, and strengthens the stability of the network as a whole. Not to mention, having frequent audits of your security system that searches for holes in your network where potential attacks could occur is where true prevention lies.
According to the Ponemon Institute, two-thirds of organizations believe they don’t have the adequate resources to manage security effectively. Regular maintenance on your network take companies out of that statistic and gives them peace of mind over their security. Prevention is key when it comes to your cyber security - and regular network audits and updates is the best way to achieve it!
3. Customize Security Layers
The best corporate security comes from customized assessments of your architecture that identify your organization’s weak points. For example, if your company uses online banking or other portals that handle sensitive customer data, you might be wise to set up two-factor authentication to restrict user access beyond what basic security solutions provide. This is just a simple example of the multi-layered security approach, it goes much deeper when there are more devices and communication lines open.
Security layers include patch management, antivirus software, data encryption, and firewalls just to name a few. These types of security layers are highly effective in catching possible breach locations and preventing sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands. Research shows that half of employees who leave a company (especially on bad terms) take pieces of sensitive information with them. This is extremely hazardous to the confidential information you want to protect, and the reason why security layers for that type of information is crucial to have in place.
4. Get a Handle on Your Internet of Things Devices
Hackers can easily take advantage of a business’s internet-enabled technology and seize control of it for zombie bot-net attacks, data theft, and more. To avoid this, look into network segmentation for your IoT devices.
Network segmentation for IoT devices in your network means separating the traffic of guests in your contacts, external parties, and employees. Segmentation helps your team more easily monitor networks as well as insuring that even if a security breach does occur, the damage won’t spread to other segments and end up in your primary IT infrastructure.
5. Encrypt Cloud Data
Encrypting data is a very powerful tool against potential security breaches. It translates or ‘codes’ the information into another form, so only people who have a key to unlock the encryption can access the information. If you haven’t considered cloud-based data encryption, it’s time to start. Most major Ecommerce websites already utilize the HTTPS protocol, and research indicates that over half of all internet traffic is now encrypted in some form.
Consider deploying server side encryption, such as AES 256-bit, to protect the data your business sends. This will help protect your enterprise from hackers, eavesdroppers, and data loss of all kinds.
6. Strong Passwords
It may sound simple, but having strong passwords for your company’s sensitive and protected information can save you from headaches down the road. Criminals on the Dark Web have been known to steal passwords and personal information from sites to sell on covert online marketplaces. Sites such as Linkedin, Adobe, and Dropbox, where people use their work email domain to log in, have experienced high profile breaches in the past. To avoid a costly data breach, strong passwords are key to protecting your business’s private information.
It is actually more beneficial to have a strong password in place then it is to constantly be changing a weak one. With strong passwords, the need to change it every month subsides. Advice for a strong password is very simple - make it long! The best is a string of words/phrases with capital letters, numbers, and symbols thrown in.
There is still a risk that your information is at stake, even with a strong password in place. It is important to periodically scan the Dark Web for compromised passwords.
7. Train Your Staff
The final step of preventing a security breach may in fact be the most important: training your employees in good cybersecurity practices. They say employees are the weakest link of any security system, a claim supported by cybersecurity research: Up to 90% of all cyberattacks are indirectly caused by employees who unwittingly give up their system ID credentials or otherwise expose their business systems to malware.
Because employees are such a large threat to the cybersecurity of a company, it is vital to train them with knowledge to prevent an attack of any kind. The two most important topic are phishing emails and clickable malware. If employees are aware of what these two threats look like and what to do when faced with them, they will be well equipped to prevent an attack head on.
The Key for Data Security
With security being a top priority, many businesses bear the burden of securing data across countless geographic locations and nearly limitless internet-enabled endpoints. Company executives and/or management can make the process easier by ensuring their team is trained effectively, every data stream that flows to/from the cloud is locked down, and a centralized system of security is created where issues can be identified at a moment’s notice.
Companies who follow this process increase the security of their workflows which leads to business operations being improved and employees gaining efficiency. It’s always important to stay up to date on the latest trends and set precautions in place to rest assure that you won’t be losing money, sensitive data, and resources because of cyber criminals.