By Robin Singh
Small and medium businesses are the preferred targets of cyber-attacks. 81% of cyberattack incidents happen in small and medium-sized organizations.
A 2018 survey by NCSU (North Carolina State University) and Protiviti revealed that managing cyber threats was one of the most significant operational risks for organizations of all sizes. Business owners and executives are worried about ransomware attacks, data breaches, and failures to patch known vulnerabilities.
The good news is that 97% of these attacks can be prevented easily by:
● Raising security awareness in employees
● Implementing some basic recommended security practices
● Opting for affordable and inexpensive cybersecurity services.
You do not need a hefty investment of time, effort, or money to fend off most of the cyber threats hovering on your business.
Here are a few things you can do to protect your fledgeling venture from being thrown off the course by unknown hackers:
- Conduct Your Business over a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A new online business owner often does not have experience of battling the cyber threats that are getting smarter with time. In such cases, small businesses should try a free trial VPN. A VPN allows you to create a safe, encrypted proprietary network connection for your business over the less-
secure Internet open to the public.
A VPN uses a tunnelling protocol. Your data is encrypted at the starting end and decrypted at the receiving end of these tunnels. It also encrypts the network addresses of the originating and receiving points for additional security. You can allow access to your VPN to remote employees, business travelers, or freelance workers as required.
The virtual private network can keep your data safe even when you visit different websites or access it through mobile devices. A VPN is essentially a browser setting that does not let identifiable user data (such as cookies) from being forwarded to a third-party server.
VPNs use several encryption technologies like:
● Datagram transport layer security (DTLS)
● IP security (IPSec)
● Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
● Secure Shell (SSH)
● Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)
● Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)
● Transport Layer Security (TLS)
They make sure that no one can snoop on your web activity and you become untraceable.
2. Use the High-Tech Computer Chip which Makes Your Systems Unhackable
Traditionally, one installs software patches to prevent cyber-attacks. These virus and malware scanners detect suspicious files and quarantine them to prevent them from taking effect.
Researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a better solution. They have come up with a computer chip called ‘ Morpheus ‘ that can encrypt and reshuffle data and coding 20 times per second. It means that even if a hacker breaks into a computer, the information he or she needs will vanish within milliseconds.
You can adjust the speed of the chip. A ‘churn’ rate of 50 milliseconds will slow the system down by only 1%. This chip scrambles up the data several thousand times faster than other electronic hacking tools available at present. It is the best hardware security technology small businesses can use to keep their data safe.
Morpheus can be installed on PCs, laptops, and IoT devices.
3. Develop a Plan to Prevent Data Breach
Data breaches allow unauthorized entities to gain sensitive and secure data. The Ponemon Institute conducted ‘the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach’ study. It surmised that the average global cost of a data breach was $3.86 million.
Other shocking revelations this report made were:
● For data breaches that affected 2,500 to 100,000 records, the average cost per compromised record was $148.
● Data breaches caused by malicious cyberattacks were much more than those caused by system glitches or human errors. The average cost per record compromised due to a cyberattack was $157.
● The cost of a data breach involving 1 million records was $40 million.
● The average cost of data breach security incident compromising 50 million records was $350million.
Small businesses should develop a data breach prevention plan that covers the best practices in the industry. They need to make their employees aware of the potential security threats online, such as:
● Exfiltration (where a hacker breaches one computer on the network and uses it to attack the rest)
● The exploitation of weaknesses in security protocols (which may be related to staff, systems or network)
● Social engineering attacks (such as ransomware attacks or phishing schemes)
Regular employee training should be conducted to make staff aware of evolving cyber threats and how to prevent them.
They should know how to:
● Encrypt emails
● Transfer files in a secure manner
● Safely communicate across platforms
● Handle enterprise hardware with care
Using separate hardware for business and personal purposes also goes a long way in preventing data breaches. Data encryption technologies such as:
● Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)
● 256-bit encryption
● XTS block cipher
It should be used to encrypt sensitive and personally identifiable data.
A data breach prevention plan for a small business must also include robust authentical techniques and real-time monitoring to mitigate risks.
4. Embrace Low-Cost Cyber Security Solutions
Small businesses do not have the same resources as larger ones. But there are several low-cost options available these days that can fortify your data security several times over.
● Cloud Storage: Saving your files in the cloud allow you to access them from anywhere and using any device without compromising their security. In case you do lose files for some reason, you can always access the backup on the cloud and prevent operational breakdowns.
● Secure Payment Gateways: Your website should have an SSL certificate and its URL should start with “https://”. It should also have a padlock symbol next to it. These things tell your clients that their data is safe in your hands. Encrypt the data, collect only the most pertinent information, save the required information only on PCI DSS compliant gateway, and never save the information you no longer need.
● Firewall: Use an open-source or free firewall system to keep the outsiders from penetrating your private network. Internal firewalls on your office and home networks (including those of your employees) should also be considered for additional protection.
Multi-factor identification processes and changing passwords frequently are some other ways to ensure that your data remains safe.
Be vigilant and keep a tab on emerging technologies to keep your small business safe from bad actors on the cyber threat scene.
Please check out free trial VPN for more information.