Protecting Your Business from Cyber Threats Here on the Suncoast
We all have started to hear a lot about cyber security, hacks by countries on other countries’ computer systems, and many other concerns. As a small business owner or individual many erroneously believe that they don’t have anything major to worry about. Or sometimes that their cable or internet provider takes care of what they need. The fact is that cyber security and protecting your data on both your computer and small business systems impacts everyone, no matter your size.
Common Ways Hacks Occur
- Compromised Credentials – when someone gets your username, password, or other crucial login information.
- Inside Attacks – not all attacks or compromises of data come from outside your organization. Remember, these attacks could be malicious and planned or just an accidental oversight by someone close to you.
- Unpatched Systems – Software and Hardware that have known vulnerabilities that have not been updated. These vulnerabilities are actively used to create hacking tools and bots sold on the dark web to easily and many times automatically attack your systems.
- Phishing – when an email is sent requesting the receiver to do some action but results in harmful data security situations.
- Outside Concerns – often, multiple vendors access our systems, providing network support, hardware, accounting, or other services with access to our information. Unfortunately, many concerns can happen when an unsecured outside source introduces a pathway into our systems.
- Brute Force – is when someone tries, again and again, to access systems using all combinations of passwords and security information until they land on the right combination.
- Malware – is software that, once installed on a computer, might seem for legitimate purposes, but its actual intended use is damage to the computer, network, or exposing vulnerabilities for other uses.
- Others – as we all learn about the different types of hacks, the perpetrators get smarter and find craftier ways to access what they want. Who, what, and the types of attacks change so rapidly. Professionals now make full-time careers attempting to stay ahead of these trends and protect businesses and consumers.
How to Protect Your Business
We all know horror stories and can see the many ways we can get attacked at work and home. The inevitable question is, what things should I be doing to protect myself?
- Next-Generation Firewall – Using a business-level firewall with Intrusion Detection/Prevention, Application filtering, and security subscription service will protect your network where it connects to the internet. It will also allow you to limit access if you want to block certain types of sites and control bandwith so that video conferencing, VOIP, and streaming are more reliable. Home and Small Business users can look to an emerging market sector catering to “Non-IT Pros” such as Cisco Meraki GO hardware. They provide advanced security and can be set up by anybody using a cell phone app in a matter of minutes.
- End Point Security – make sure you have software installed that protects all your devices against malware, ransomware, and viruses and is up to date.
- Secure your network – Don’t leave active network ports open where someone can plug into your network. Don’t just add wireless to your network and forget about it. Setting up a managed wireless network where you can monitor its use, firewall, and isolate guest users completely from your network is highly recommended. If your wireless hardware does not auto-update/patch, ensure you stay up to date with released updates. Also, adjust your wireless coverage so that it does not go beyond your managed space so that it makes it harder for someone to connect from outside.
- Password Management – ensure you don’t use the same password on many sites; combinations of 10 letters, numbers, and symbols are best, and even a management application to lock the passwords might be an option. Enable two form factor authentication where it is supported, especially if you are using a password management application.
- Software updates are crucial – as your various software providers find gaps or new threats emerge, they will often patch or update software. Having the latest versions installed provides the best protection. You should also not ignore your networked devices, commonly referred to as IOTs (Internet of things), as they are being actively exploited as well. If your device supports automatic updates, ensure it’s configured to update. If not, be diligent in installing updates/patches. Replace or remove the end-of-life devices that no longer receive updates whenever possible.
- Advanced Email Filtering – If you have a domain set up for email, you should be using an advanced email filtering service. It will cut down on SPAM and help stop malware and phising emails from reaching your mailbox, lowering the chance that they opened or acted on.
- Social media is about monitored – ensure the information you provide on social media is not providing cybercriminals information they shouldn’t have. Family names, hometowns, mothers’ maiden names, and such are not appropriate for public consumption if you remain cyber safe.
- Have a family plan – just because you are working hard to protect yourself doesn’t mean someone else in the household couldn’t cause issues. Be sure to have conversations about downloads, safely access the internet, and cyber threats with everyone in the household.
- Businesses do backgrounds – you want to ensure that you have a solid cyber plan for employees at home, including accessing company networks from home, surfing the web guidelines, email protection, and the like.
- Businesses professional survey – unless your business is cyber security, ensuring you have a survey done of your networks, access policies, computers, and software by a professional could be an expense that pays for itself time and again.
As the world relies more and more on computers, cellphones, and software to run our lives, the criminals of the world turn to cybercrimes in growing numbers. Whether with your family, small business, or company, be sure that cybercrimes are something you take seriously. Billions of dollars in the company’s downtime, identify theft, and other cybercrimes will be recorded this coming year. Do as much as possible to ensure you are fighting to keep these criminals away from you and your business.
Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos & Pixaby