Last Updated on 8 June 2023 by admin
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Businesses must prioritize cybersecurity to protect their sensitive information, no matter their size. But smaller businesses are especially vulnerable to threats and there are various reasons for this, such as limitations on budgets, lack of security awareness, out-of-date software and legacy systems, and capacity issues.
In our previous blog, we discussed the top cyber threats for small businesses. This follow-up piece explores how organizations can prevent a cyber attack by fostering a security-first culture improving their overall cyber hygiene for a more productive and sustainable future.
Necessary protocols to protect your business against potential threats and prevent a cyber attack
Cutting costs and neglecting cyber security is a dangerous game to play, and can not only cause significant business disruption but also pose serious repercussions legally, financially, and reputationally. Malicious actors continue to prove themselves increasingly entrepreneurial, taking the utmost advantage of a business expanding and evolving attack surface. Staying ahead of the game in the current digital climate has become pivotal for business success.
Routinely update your apps and software
A key issue that many organizations face – not just the smaller ones – is that they don’t update their operating system and software often enough.
The majority of cyber vulnerabilities are due to outdated software and apps. And while nothing can fully protect your business from an attack, updating your software and apps regularly, helps to protect your organization from the most common cyber threats.
This is especially important if you have employees using devices such as smartphones or laptops. First and foremost, make sure to keep your software and apps up to date by visiting the manufacturer’s website or by visiting the device manufacturer’s app store.
Check for updates on a regular basis and update immediately when a new version is available. Any device that is not updated properly could pose a cybersecurity threat and trigger an attack. Minimize the risk of a cyber attack by disabling third-party extensions, ensuring that apps are from a trusted source, and using a virtual private network. This will help mitigate the risk of malware entering your organization and enable your employees to access critical data remotely.
Patch misconfigurations as soon as possible
Security misconfigurations inevitably leave your data exposed to cybercriminals. They can be hard to identify (potentially present within different kinds of systems) and if unattended to, can have serious repercussions on the business.
To ensure that patches are applied as soon as possible, you must be able to track the state of your patching process easily.
To help with this, maintain a patch management plan that includes a comprehensive list of all software and devices in your organization, together with a timeline for when each item is due for patching and a process for tracking and managing patch deployments. Due to the dynamic nature of malware, for example, it can easily be tailored to exploit vulnerabilities, so patching misconfigurations is a very important task and should not be overlooked.
Enforce robust password management
We use passwords more than you might think – from accessing your devices to opening personal messages and work emails to online banking. And attackers shouldn’t be underestimated. Without a strong password, a malicious threat actor can quite easily gain privileged access to your digital environment and locate private personal or company information.
Using a password manager will also prove beneficial
Although research indicates that the average person has approximately 100 passwords to remember, it’s no secret that many people just use the same one over and over across their different accounts. Shockingly, 12345 is still the most popular password in the world today. But no matter how unique or complex your passwords are, they only provide so much protection.
We recommend creating new unique logins for all your accounts, using two-factor authentication (so even if an attacker has your password, they can’t enter into your accounts), and a password manager tool. Find out how to create secure passwords with advice from our experts.
Back up your data
Cyberattacks often involve the manipulation of data. For example, hackers may try to alter data to cause a device to malfunction or cause damage to a business through the manipulation of data.
To prevent this, it is vital to safeguard your sensitive data effectively. So, using a cloud storage service or an external hard drive to back up data is a useful solution. With secondary storage, you can rest assured that if your business is successfully targeted by a breach (such as ransomware), you would not lose important information.
Encourage a security-first culture with ongoing training
The role of human error in security breaches is substantial (approximately 80% are caused by human error) and well-documented, you must reduce opportunities for attackers to gain access by equipping your employees with the right security training that will prevent identity theft and other basic cyber security issues. Cyber security should be prioritized in the boardroom to help sustain your security efforts.
Attackers are using progressively refined techniques to target unsuspecting employees and launch an attack (such as malware, malicious code or phishing), so vigilance is key.
Be prepared for growth
Naturally, your security program needs to be scalable to develop in line with your company’s growth. Over time, your technology requirements will naturally expand to include more users and a broader range of internal, external, and cloud services. You will need to ensure that your software is sustainably optimized for potential scalability and automating routine tasks helps operational efficiency.
If you aren’t using an automated approach yet, such as continuous security monitoring, be sure that your team is attentive, and any incidents are directly addressed and recorded immediately.
Invest in proactive cyber security
To promote sustainable development within your small business, you need to be aware of your overall security health and remain alert – especially with increasing reliance on IoT and cloud security greatly expanding the attack surface. Invest in proactive cyber security in order to combat the endless threats that persist today.
Continuous and automated cyber security tools offer an effective solution, providing 24/7 assurance that your external perimeter is being monitored against threats. Asset discovery tools empower organizations to map and monitor their assets and vulnerabilities in real-time. With a more informed view of your security stature, you can make smarter security decisions and speed up remediation. In addition, such solutions can save a lot of time, energy, and money.
Security should be a high priority for all businesses more now more than ever before. With breaches regularly appearing across different industries and scopes, it would be naïve to turn away from cyber security as we are living in an increasingly digital world.
Informer’s attack surface management platform would be invaluable for your business trajectory – helping you secure its future and remain resilient. If you are concerned about your business’s specific cyber threats, get in touch with our team to find out how this innovative SaaS solution can fortify your cyber security.