Every day the news is filled with stories about war, terrorism, crime, inequality, drug abuse, diseases, and oppression. These issues are as old as humanity itself, and while clearly serious, the media lens by its very nature magnifies and distorts our perceptions to the point where you could be forgiven for thinking the world around us is crumbling.
However, ironically from the perspective of cybersecurity, it's what's left out of media coverage that creates the same distortion. Big hacks such as 147 million customer records at Equifax compromised by hackers, the WannaCry worm that shut down organisations the world over within hours, or the three billion records hacked at Yahoo, are voraciously covered by the media.
But we don’t hear about the local solicitor that shut down six months after a ransomware attack, the accountancy firm that went to the wall when its customer records were exposed on the internet, or the small real estate firm that folded when its accounts were raided by hackers. And because we don’t hear these stories it creates the perception among small local businesses that they won’t ever be targeted.
But the facts tell a different story. A survey from last year revealed that in the UK alone:
Small businesses protection
- UK small businesses are targeted by 65,000 cyberattacks each day
- A small business is successfully hacked every 19 seconds
- 43% of small businesses are targeted by cyberattacks
Cyber protection and resilience against attacks shouldn’t be a complex or costly exercise that strains the budget and ties the management up in unwanted knots. It can be straightforward, simple, and inexpensive if you know what steps to take:
Affordable, low cost, and straightforward
- Regularly backup files. Backups should be done somewhere off-network, such as an exterior hard drive or cloud service. This way, if attacked by ransomware, for instance, all data can be restored without giving in to the criminals.
- It goes without saying that antimalware protection needs to be in place to identify and block malware that is attempting to infect computers and networks.
- Ensure all employees' devices are running endpoint security software. BullGuard Small Office Security can help by providing centralised remote management and award-winning antimalware protection for all devices irrespective of the employees' locations.
- Use complex passwords on all accounts and be sure to use different passwords for services and files that need protection. Ideally, a strong password will use a variety of letters, numbers, and special characters. However, these passwords can be difficult to remember in which case a Password Manager is invaluable. It automatically generates strong passwords and keeps them secure in a digital strongbox.
- Use 2FA (two-factor authentication) whenever possible. This is a simple process that defeats hackers. Once a password is entered 2FA sends a code to a nominated mobile phone. This code has to be entered, after the password, to access the service.
- Use a VPN. Many small businesses have seen the value of VPNs during the Covid-19 pandemic as employees have had to work from home or public Wi-Fi networks. However, it’s worth reiterating they encrypt data and provide a private tunnel between computing devices and online services that are being accessed keeping sensitive communications safe from prying eyes and attacks.
It's also important to bring employees on board and impress upon them that they are as central to cybersecurity resilience as the technologies they use. For instance, as a matter of course, employees should:
- Recognise the importance of not clicking on unknown links or downloading attachments in emails they are not expecting.
- Be able to identify phishing emails by checking the sender's address and looking out for spelling and grammatical errors or requests/demands/alerts that don’t ring true.
- Ensure all operating system and apps are up-to-date with the latest versions and patches are applied as soon as possible.
- Use a VPN when connecting to the office or office apps and files from a public Wi-Fi network.
These are simple steps to follow and are in no way onerous, costly, or complex. BullGuard
, for instance, provides cost-effective, multi-award-winning cyber protection, exclusively developed for small businesses and secure click-and-go VPN services.
Designed specifically with simplicity and ease-of-use in mind they provide any small business with robust protection, privacy, and peace of mind while ensuring they don't become one more statistic in the ever-growing number of small businesses hit by cyberattacks.