Cyber attacks have been in the news frequently in the past few months. We started 2021 off in the U.S. with news of a cyber attack affecting Microsoft users. Just a few weeks ago, we witnessed a cyber attack that shut down a U.S. fuel pipeline. And there have been countless others in the few months in between these incidents.
We see these headlines often enough, but what do they actually mean? What is a cyber attack, and why does it matter to small businesses?
That’s what we’re going to focus on in today’s blog post. We’ll talk about what a cyber attack is, how to identify one, and steps you can take to keep yourself and your business safe.
What is a Cyber Attack?
A cyber attack is any attempt from hackers to gain information from a computer system or otherwise destroy it.
The reason this comes up in the news so often is because different countries will target each other’s databases in order to obtain information or otherwise disrupt processes that the other country relies on.
Cyber Attacks and Small Business
Even though the cyber attacks we hear about in the news tend to happen to large corporations (and governments), small businesses are not immune from their effects.
According to a study by Fundera, 50% of small and mid-sized businesses have experienced at least one cyber attack in the last year. Even worse, 65% of small businesses did not take any action after a cyber attack occurred.
When attacking a small business, hackers are typically after sensitive data, such as credit card information. However, there’s no telling what a hacker will take from your business once they have access. That’s why it’s better to plan ahead of time to ensure that an attack is not successful in the first place.
Protecting Against a Cyber Attack
Hackers have gotten smarter over the years as the increase in digital technology has brought more businesses to rely on the internet to conduct every day business operations. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps that every small business owner can take to ensure proper precautions are in place to keep their information safe.
Here are a few suggestions for protecting against a cyber attack:
Train Employees in Security Best Practices
Anyone who works for your small business should have in-depth knowledge about internet safety, such as two-factor authentication and password management.
They should also feel comfortable recognizing phishing scams and know not to click on links or visit websites that seem suspicious.
Implementing regular training sessions or even email reminders will help make sure that everyone at your business is being vigilant.
Invest in Antivirus Software
Having good antivirus protection is a must for small businesses with any information or daily operations that take place online.
Tools like Norton and Avast can be used to run daily scans of your technology to ensure there isn’t any malware or other malicious code. Plus, they can also be used to ensure that links, websites, and files are safe prior to clicking or downloading.
Protect Your WiFi
If you’re in an office in which employees regularly access the internet, make sure the WiFi information is hidden (can’t be discovered by anyone outside of the office) and secured with a strong password.
The WiFi name should not include the name of your business, and employees should be warned against connecting to any WiFi that they do not recognize, particularly on work devices.
If You Do Become a Cyber Attack Victim
If you do find that your business’s sensitive information has been hacked into, it’s important to act quickly. They can be very expensive to recover from, but doing nothing is the worst possible solution.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are a few ways to report a cyber attack. They are:
- Local law enforcement.
- The Internet Crime Complaint Center for stolen identities or credit card information.
- The Federal Trade Commission in cases of fraud.
- The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency for computer or network vulnerabilities.
It may also be necessary to contact clients to keep them informed of the situation if their information is at risk. This should be a written memo in which you outline what happened, as well as what the company is doing to manage the situation.
Above all, it’s important to be transparent during crises like these. Customers may not need to know every single detail, but they should be made aware of the facts of the situation.
Depending on the circumstances, you will want someone to manage client relationships and public relations in the face of these unfolding circumstances. Someone should be made available to field client questions, as well as create messaging for email correspondence and social media inquiries, depending on the unique situation.
At this point, if you haven’t already, it will be important to start putting more security measures in place. A business that is regularly plagued by cyber attacks will suffer, because customers won’t trust them anymore. Plus, they’ll be spending so much time picking up the pieces of the frequent attacks that they won’t be able to go on the offensive as a business.
While cyber attacks may be unpredictable in nature, there are certain steps that you can take to protect your business today. Don’t get caught looking back to before an attack, wishing you had stronger security measures in place ahead of time.
Do you have questions about security and the steps Vervology takes to ensure our clients’ websites are kept safe? Feel free to get in touch. We would be happy to be a resource for you.
If you found this article interesting or helpful, consider sharing it with a colleague.