In the IT industry, ransomware is a major concern. In 2021, businesses are expected to spend more money on various cyberattacks than the previous five years combined. As many people are already aware, there have been recent ransomware attacks that made major headlines. In May of this year, the Colonial Pipeline was hacked which impacted Americans up and down the east coast. Then, last month, a major meat packing plant experienced a cyberattack which disrupted the entire meat packing process for days.
These attacks are not only occurring more often, but they are also getting more expensive to remedy. Over the past 5 years, there has been a significant increase in the amount of money a ransomware attack may cost. The good news is that with a good IT team or provider, these attacks are completely avoidable.
Here are 5 ways you can protect your business from cyberattacks:
1. Educate yourself on cyberattacks
Part of avoiding cyberattacks is understanding how they occur. Hackers often breach networks by targeting employees and their credentials, or by penetrating the network through unsecure endpoints, or by a combination of the two. Once they are in, their goal is to encrypt areas of your network that contain valuable data or controls critical functions. Then, they will ask you to pay them to decrypt the data. In many cases, the decryption only partially works and business are still left with missing data.
These hackers will attempt to breach your network in any way they can, but they can also be lazy. When the proper security measures are taken, hackers will often move onto another organization to avoid the extra time of effort it may take. Most times, hackers are motivated by the idea of making money quickly. If you make their jobs harder, they will likely leave you alone, but if you leave your network vulnerable you may find yourself in deep water.
2. Implement 2FA across your network
Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) or Two Factor Authentication (2FA) is an easy way to protect your business from a cyberattack. This simple solution requires a second form of authentication be met in order to log into (servers, admin accounts, and even email accounts, etc.) This is usually done by entering a code sent to your mobile device. You have probably seen this before when logging into an application that contained sensitive data such as bank accounts, health accounts, and others.
3. Training your employees and implement company technology policies
Employee errors made up 15% of the malicious activity that plagued businesses in 2021. These errors often come from taking part in risky behavior. This could be using a personal laptop, connecting to a public internet connection, and more. Luckily, these mistakes can be avoided with proper employee training and company policies.
Employee training is the best way businesses can avoid mistakes that could cost them money. Your IT department or provider should be able to provide you with training opportunities. At our organization, we train our clients on topics such as: identifying phishing emails, remaining HIPAA compliant outside of your office, company policy reviews, and more. You can also test your employees by sending spoof
phishing emails to see if they can identify it, or if they proceed to take risky actions. These types of trainings/testing can provide your team with the tools they need to avoid costly business mistakes.
Another way you can avoid employees making mistakes is to have clear and concise company policies in place to avoid IT disaster. Within your company policy you should include things such as:
- Restrictions around use of personal laptops to access company information
- Wi-fi security requirements for any network they plan on connecting to
- Approved use of specific password management tools
- Rules around how to use your work accounts
- And more.
If you need help planning your company’s IT policies, please feel free to reach out to our team for resources.
4. Search for cyber liability insurance
Insurance protection for businesses are not uncommon, but does your business have cyber liability insurance? This specific kind of insurance is designed to assist your organization in the event a cyberattack occurs. With increasing financial demands from hackers, business owners need to be more wary of potential attacks. Cyber liability policies can help owners remedy the cost of the attack and the help off-set the cost of down-time. We highly recommend that businesses protect themselves by acquiring a policy of this type.
5. Begin business continuity planning
Business continuity planning is a process that all business owners should go through annually. When disaster strikes, the last thing you want is to be scrambling to identify and remedy the issue. The goal of continuity planning is to prepare your business for this very disaster. This plan is designed to address things such as: what to do if the office burns down, what to do if Microsoft or Google lost all your data, and other horrible disaster. This process is also helpful because it allows you to systematically implement all the security tools and back up protocols that are necessary to restore your network after disaster.
Additional resources for you here.
Ransomware is a scary topic these days. With attacks making major headlines, it is more important than ever that your business prioritize IT security. It is easy to put this off and think ‘this will never happen to me,’ but not preparing could cost you your business. If you are looking for additional resources on this topic, you can visit our resource page here.