|By Nate Vickery||
|January 9, 2016 10:00 AM EST||
Although corporate giants realized the danger of cyber attacks and cyber crime in general, especially after attacks on Sony and Zappos, as well as the very sensitive data breach that struck Ashley Madison website, small businesses still don't do much for making their networks more secure.
Statistics say that more than half of all small businesses in the US don't provide security training for their employees, only one quarter conduct outside party security tests, and more than 40% don't produce backup copies of their most important business files, in case something goes wrong.
Why Small Businesses Don't Invest in Cyber Security?
Most small entrepreneurs think that their businesses are immune to cyber attacks due to false belief that cyber criminals only attack corporative and government websites. Annual research conducted by Symantec, for their 2015 Internet Security Threat Report determined that more than 40% of businesses that became victims of cyber crime have 500 or less employees.
These attacks create huge losses, and close thousands of small businesses every year. Small companies are much less likely to stand back on their feet and become competitive again after a disastrous data breach. Same research done by Symantec also determined that more than 60% of attacked companies had to be permanently closed afterwards.
How to Prevent Cyber Attacks?
No website can be 100% secure from cyber attacks, but by introducing new security protocols and providing proper training for employees, entrepreneurs can reduce the risk of cyber attacks to minimum. These are some of the things that can be done:
- Physical Access Control- Only authorized personnel should have the access to company computers and gadgets.
- Employee's training- All company employees' should understand cyber security principles and know how to securely use common services that can be found online. This includes: social networks, web browsing, e mail correspondence, and SMS and text messaging, since these are some of the most frequent channels through which cyber criminals slip in malware files into company computers. Security training for employees is especially important for companies that use BYOD work model.
- Regular System Updates- Most cyber attacks are based on exploits which are continuously scanned by automated tools. Each one of these exploits comes with a patch that is quickly released, and that can protect system from outside attacks.
- Backup- Having few backup locations is necessary, especially for businesses that deal with sensitive information.
- Firewall- Firewalls are the basis of almost every network security strategy. They prevent the entrance of malicious files by checking all passing data that that enters and exits the network.
- Regular Antivirus Updates- Outdated antivirus programs are mostly useless. These programs need to be regularly updated in order to recognize and deal with the latest bugs and other malicious software.
- Secure Wi Fi networks- Only secure Wi-Fi networks should be used, both at company premises and at home, for employees who access company networks after work. One part of employee's security training should inform employees about the dangers of non-secure Wi-Fi networks.
- Strong and Frequently Updated Passwords- Companies should use pass phrases instead of regular passwords, and should constantly update them.
- Remote Support- Remote support software enables security technicians and engineers to access other computers in the network and act fast in case of security breach.
- Limiting Access to Installation Software- Only few key technician and engineers should have access to installation software, because over-exposure of these sensitive files can have disastrous consequences on company's security.
- Emergency Protocols- Companies need to have elaborate plans that determine specific tasks that should be done in case of emergency. These protocols should define the role of every employee and minimize the consequences of cyber attacks.
- Hire Professionals- Many small businesses decide to hire cyber security agencies for developing security strategies. Although this can be costly at first, on the long run it is much more affordable and reliable option than hiring whole team of security experts in a regular way.
Although the facts acquired by independent researchers that deal with cyber security for small businesses still sound grim, a positive trend can be observed where entrepreneurs are becoming more aware of this problem. This comes as a result of media coverage of cyber attacks on big corporate entities, as well as many informative articles and guidelines published online.
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