More daily business activities are moving online. It is becoming increasingly important for companies to create prevention measures that ensure no attempts are made to steal data or money. Cybersecurity involves the protection of computer-based equipment and information from unintended or unauthorized access, change, or destruction.
A cyber attack can take several forms, including theft or unauthorized access to computers, laptops, tablets, or mobile devices. A remote attack on IT systems or websites, attacks on information held in 3rd party systems such as cloud devices.
Types of Cyber Attacks
4 main types of cyber attacks have been identified. These are
- Denial of service. Such an attack successfully prevents the authorized functionality of networks, systems, or applications by exhausting resources. Once the system is attacked in this manner, the hackers normally ask for a ransom or fee to regain access to the files.
- Malware, worms, and Trojan horses. These attacks are deadly viruses, which are spread by email, instant messaging, malicious websites, and infected non-malicious websites.
- Botnets and Zombies. A botnet, short for robot network, is an aggregation of compromised computers that are connected to a central controller. The compromised computers are often referred to as zombies. Botnets, which are designed to steal data, are improving their encryption game abilities and thus becoming more difficult to detect.
- Scareware. More commonly understood as fake security warnings this type of attack can be particularly profitable for cybercriminals, as many users believe the pop-up warnings that tell their system is effective and then are tricked into downloading and paying for special software to protect their system.
Importance of Cybersecurity
Companies need to protect themselves from the threat of scams, data thefts, and other online vulnerabilities. This is why;
- Cybercrime is on the rise. The reason why cybercrime continues to increase is because it is cheap, fast, and highly profitable compared to other types of crime.
- Causes significant damage. Cybercrime can cause an organization significant loss of property. It might also have an effect on the image of the business attacked.
- Cybercrime affects trust with customers and employees. If people feel their information is unsafe trust is lost.
- User identity is on the line. People’s identities are used to protect points of access to large amounts of data. With the development of the Internet of Things, everything is almost connected to the Internet.
- All organizations have vulnerabilities. As brands grow, their networking systems become complicated and things might slip through the cracks.
- End-user vulnerability. The end users can sometimes be the weakest link in an organization’s security.
Impact of Cyber Attacks on Businesses
A lot of businesses have recorded massive losses as a result of cyber attacks. And this is not just financial loss, there is a lot that is compromised when these attacks happen. Below are some of the negative impacts of cyber attacks on businesses.
Financial losses can take different forms. The loss can be direct, where part of the company’s assets were stolen. For example, a banking service provider can lose money through a cyberattack. The other form is when the attack prevents customers from accessing service, leading to a loss of potential revenue.
High Cost of Recovery
Retrieving crucial information from attacks that use ransomware might be costly. There is an option of either paying the ransom or hiring a hacker to counter the situation. Regardless of the path taken, it will still be costly.
There have been a lot of businesses that have gone under as a result of a cyber-attack. Customers and other stakeholders find it hard to do business with a victim of the attack.
Third parties that share networks with the company attacked might end up being collateral. A small business connected to a big company might fail to invest in cybersecurity making it an access point for an attack.
Loss of Lives
Worst-case scenario, some cyberattacks might end up causing deaths. An attack on a medical facility might drag the responsiveness of medical services affecting patients in the ICU and others who are in dire need.
Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses
Let’s look at some of the cybersecurity tips that businesses could consider.
Employees have put organizations at risk either through carelessness or premeditated malicious intent. Most companies suffer from breaches in security due to employees lacking proper guidelines in handling company networks. The best way to counter this is by investing in cybersecurity training for the staff.
Criminals are always looking for new ways of attacking business systems. With almost everything having access to the internet, pathways to an attack are increasing. Regular risk assessment helps in identifying potential threats beforehand. Risk assessments will also help in settling for the safest way to store, access, and dispense sensitive company data.
All the appliances and software that run in the organization should be kept up to date. Some devices like the Wi-Fi router might need manual updating, regardless it should also be updated.
This is to counter attacks that are directed at the company’s data that can be used for ransom. In the case of a cyberattack, if the files are backed up, business operations can go on as usual, but the relevant authorities should be involved. Also, backup should be done regularly without fail.
Encryption programs should be used to safeguard key information in the business. Things like product design, credit card information, customer lists, and other intellectual property should be encrypted. By encrypting the information, it hinders access for any unauthorized person. A key is needed to decrypt the information.
Install Firewalls and Antiviruses
They both work to rid of any danger in the system. The antivirus helps detect any unusual activities while firewalls safeguard the flow of data in and out of the system by blocking any unauthorized access. Firewalls work best for data storage devices while antiviruses are best for day-to-day computing appliances.
Passwords, Password Managers and Limited Access
Following the current standard, a strong password should not be less than 15 characters consisting of a mixture of numbers, symbols, and letters. In addition, limiting access to devices that hold crucial information should be standard practice. Sensitive data should be handled by a small number of people which reduces the probability of a system breach.
Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to cause havoc. It is the business owner’s duty to ensure proper measures are in place to prevent or anticipate cyber-attacks. The list of measures to undertake is robust and there is no single way to combat this cyber attack menace. By employing a combination of some of the tips listed here, your business can be well prepared in the instance of an attack.