Take these preventative steps to reduce risks and maximize cybersecurity for your company.
Here's what you need to know:
- There are many preemptive cybersecurity measures you can take to reduce risk and protect your business
- Create a well-defined plan for the worst-case scenario so you’re prepared
- Identify systems that are most vulnerable to cyberattacks and implement a comprehensive monitoring system
- Data encryption and secure password management are crucial to fighting cyberattacks
- Backing up your data cuts losses and cyber insurance will help recoup losses
Cyberattacks are a business’s worst nightmare. Even if it has not happened to your organization, a coordinated cyberattack could cripple your organization at any moment. Yes, it is scary and costly, which further necessitates putting protections in place so your risk decreases.
Recent events have put many American companies on high alert for any sign of a Russian cyberattack. It is good to be cautious and aware, but it is also important to remember that cyberattacks can come from almost any country on the planet. Sure, 35% of cyberattacks originate in either Russia or China, but anyone in nearly any part of the world could target your business, its assets, or even its reputation.
We won’t go into too much detail here but we want to run you through a few of the most common types of cyberattacks. Phishing, ransomware (malware that denies users access to their own data), or an SQL injection (malicious code in a comment section or forum) are a handful of the ones most people/organizations encounter.
Overwhelmed at the prospect of a cyberattack? Do not worry too much about it. We are simply making you aware so that you know where and how you need to protect your organization. The good news is that there is plenty you can do to reduce risk and protect your business.
Read on for some cybersecurity advice you can start implementing immediately. This will help prevent (or at the very least mitigate) the damage cyberattacks can inflict on your business.
In fact, this article in particular is mainly concerned with preemptive measures you can take rather than actual guidance for when hackers strike. When you have a well-defined plan for the worst-case scenario and that scenario becomes reality, the path forward is much clearer and much less scary.
Identify systems that are most vulnerable to cyberattacks
This is a big 1. One of the best, most prudent steps you can take in beefing up your business’s cybersecurity is identifying systems hackers are most likely to attack.
Without this knowledge, you are blind to what these types of criminals can do and you are more susceptible to targeted attacks. The havoc they can wreak does not have to be so nebulous. Why not get some clarity to help you prepare better?
We also recommend that you read up on what kinds of software or systems hackers like to target when attacking businesses. That will help you shorten your search and zero in on areas that may need to be strengthened further.
There are many precautions you can take when assessing and establishing your cybersecurity defenses. They are all important but this should still be the very first 1.
Devise a step-by-step plan to combat potential cyberattacks
This ties into what we were discussing earlier. It is important to not just have a plan but to have a well-developed plan that implements contingencies and anticipates hackers’ actions (to the best of your ability).
Get the clearest sense of what kinds of data hackers may want and build steps around your thoughts and theories. Cyberattacks can often feel bigger and scarier if you have not discussed the possibility of 1 with your team.
This step-by-step plan can be part of your cybersecurity policy. If you do not yet have a cybersecurity policy, then you should consider creating 1. There is no downside to having 1.
Constant vigilance will help you catch cyberattacks earlier
To clarify before we go any further: We are not suggesting that you be paranoid about cyberattacks. In fact, paranoia is rarely productive and will almost always end up working against you.
We are reminding you that monitoring your cybersecurity systems needs to be an ongoing practice. Build it into your workflow if you feel that will help you implement it better. Even better (and easier), use comprehensive monitoring systems to do most of the legwork for you. More on that in a bit.
However you decide to stay vigilant, the very fact that you are doing it at all puts you in a far better position to combat cyberattacks. Take heart in that.
Data encryption is crucial to fighting cyberattacks
Data encryption is a preventative/protective measure your organization cannot and should not go without. Don’t know what data encryption is? Basically, it means turning sensitive data into secret, tough-to-crack code and then transferring it via the internet. Every time you store, share, or even view data, it is important to make sure data encryption is turned on.
For other readers, this may seem like a no-brainer. However, remembering to check whether or not you are using data encryption to protect your company’s information is important regardless of who you are. It is not top of mind for everyone so remaining aware of its uses should be a priority.
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Backing up your data cuts losses in a cyberattack
This advice is applicable to everyone who has ever/will ever store data digitally. Backing up your data is always a good idea, even if you are not planning to weather a potential cyberattack. But what backing up your data does is ensure that hackers can’t take your entire business down and leave you with no way to replace what you lost.
The lesson here is to always back up your data no matter how seriously you take cyberattacks. In fact, multiple backups are even better, especially offsite backups. Do not keep all of your sensitive information in 1 place. Secure it in multiple locations to mitigate risk.
Cybersecurity training for employees mitigates cyberattacks
Consider implementing a cybersecurity training program for all employees, not just your IT or tech teams. The benefits can be game changing for your organization.
Having a staff composed entirely of people trained in cybersecurity can help everyone rest easy. It is an excellent way to enable and empower your employees to deal with minor cybersecurity threats on their own with little to no damage to your organization.
If your business is on the smaller or newer side, integrating this training into your organization’s onboarding protocols should not be too difficult.
Cyber insurance will help recoup losses after cyberattacks
Believe it or not, cyber insurance isn’t as well-known or widely used as you may think. The peace of mind that comes with this is huge.
The important thing to remember, though, is that cyber insurance does not necessarily help protect your organization from cyberattacks. Rather, it exists to help companies recoup any potential losses or damages caused by cyberattacks.
Investing in cyber insurance could mean the difference between your business tanking and your business taking a hit but recovering eventually.
This is one of the smartest preemptive measures you can take. Investing in cyber insurance could potentially mean the difference between your business tanking and your business taking a hit but recovering eventually. Without it, you will not be able to recover lost assets. The result could be a business-killing one.
Having monitoring systems makes catching cyberattacks easier
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the vigilance advice we discussed earlier. One of the best ways you can stay vigilant (and keep your employees vigilant as well) is to implement a comprehensive monitoring system that keeps record of every piece of software your organization uses.
Another key part of having this kind of monitoring system is making sure that any software and devices that are not actively being used are wiped clean of sensitive data after every use. Remember to disconnect these devices from your network as well!
Secure password management helps prevent cyberattacks
This is a preventative measure that not nearly enough companies take, which is somewhat baffling given the prevalence of cybersecurity threats. Do not just write your passwords down somewhere.
An Excel spreadsheet or a piece of paper taped to the bottom of your keyboard is not secure. You need airtight security that helps make it next to impossible for hackers to obtain your information.
Having a password management policy is a big part of this. Hold your employees accountable when they compromise company security and educate them on how to do better.
Lead by example, too. Make sure you let them know that you follow these rules and respect these policies as well. That will demonstrate that you take it seriously.
As a final note, we also recommend enabling two-factor authentication so that hackers have to jump through more hoops to access your data. Make it as difficult for them as possible.
And there you have it! We hope this guide, as brief and broad as it was, helps you strengthen your cybersecurity and find some peace of mind.
It is not only worth it for the long term but it helps you accept that small cyberattacks will probably affect your company at some point. That acceptance will help you breathe a little easier and plan accordingly. You have heard it before: The best offense is an excellent defense. That saying applies here as well.
The biggest takeaway we can give you on this topic is that planning ahead can save you massive headaches later. Call us broken records, but this can’t be overstated.