Cyber crime is spreading at an alarming rate as more and more small businesses are targeted in cyberattacks. Most are not able to effectively defend themselves against the onslaught, and it’s more important than ever for small businesses to upgrade their cybersecurity.
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, cyber crime is expected to cost the global economy $6 trillion in 2021. To put this in perspective, if cyber crime was a country it would be the world’s third-largest economy after the United States and China.
Cyberattacks have been described as “the number one problem with humanity” by famed investor Warren Buffet, who sees it as a bigger threat to humanity than nuclear weapons.
5 Simple Steps to Upgrade Cybersecurity
Upgrading your cybersecurity doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Here are five simple steps you can take right now to protect your business.
Step #1. Make Sure Your Software Is up to Date
Regular software updates can be a pain. It often seems like it’s required at the most inconvenient times. While it’s tempting to dismiss an update notification or postpone it to a later date, doing so can be risky.
Hackers are always trying to find software vulnerabilities they can exploit. Software updates are designed to patch these bugs. By not updating your software, your business is more susceptible to a cyber attack.
Remember that a software update doesn’t just update the software on your devices. It also updates the software that runs your website and all third-party plugins or apps.
Step #2. Back Up Your Data
Even if you’re comfortable that your business is well protected against cyberattacks and that you have adequate cybersecurity, it’s prudent to always back up your data.
Imagine that all your business files are wiped clean. What would you do? It would be the same as losing all that information in a fire. Sometimes hackers may demand a ransom to release all your data. This is called a ransomware attack.
A good example of a ransomware attack is Colonial Pipeline, which was forced to shut down about 5,500 miles of pipeline. The attack disrupted nearly half the fuel supply to the East Coast, causing gas shortages. Colonial reportedly had to pay the hackers nearly $5 million in exchange for the release of their data.
Most modern software programs can automatically back up data. Find out which software programs you’re using have this feature and that it’s enabled. You can also use an external hard drive or flash drive to create backups.
Step #3. Install Antivirus Software
Some people complain that antivirus software slows down their computer and has to be updated often. This may be true, but it’s there to protect your computer from cyberattacks. Not having antivirus software isn’t worth the risk.
A common misconception is that only the Windows operating system is susceptible to viruses and malware. This isn’t true. If you’re using a MacOs you also need to install antivirus software.
Step #4. Educate Your Staff About Malware
It’s estimated that 90%+ of cyberattacks are a result of phishing. Phishing is typically when you receive an email from a hacker who wants you to click on a link or open an attachment.
Some phishing emails appear to be from reputable companies. However, in the vast majority of cases it comes in the form of an email you’re not expecting or one that’s not relevant to you. Sometimes it’s tempting to click on the link or open the attachment, but don’t.
Some phishing schemes want to infect your computer with malicious software such as spyware, ransomware or a virus. Others will try to obtain your passwords. For example, you might be sent to a page that looks identical to your online banking platform. If you enter your account number and password, hackers will use that information to drain your account.
It’s a good idea to add two-factor authentication to your accounts where possible. Whether it’s registering a phone number or installing an app, it adds an extra layer of security to help protect you from hackers.
Warn your staff not to click on any suspicious links or open any attachments from strangers. This applies to their work and private computers. If it can connect to your company’s network, the whole network can be compromised.
Step #5. Change Your Passwords
If you manually create your passwords, change them at least once every couple of months and make sure they’re not easy to guess. Don’t use the same password on many different sites.
Consider using a password manager like RoboForm or LastPass. These tools automatically generate secure passwords and safely store them for you. There’s no need for you to remember long and complicated passwords.
The FBI is the lead federal agency for investigating cyberattacks and cyber crime. The federal government has several points of contact for cyber incident reporting. If you or your business has been a victim, make sure to report it.
For more tips, advice and scam alerts make sure to check out our blog. If you have a business in Los Angeles or Silicon Valley that’s not yet accredited with the local Better Business Bureau, we invite you to get accredited and take advantage of the many benefits to help you build your clientele and manage your reputation.