Ideally, you’ll want to work with a IT security expert to assess your specific needs and vulnerabilities, but there are certainly some universal steps you can take that will greatly reduce your likelihood of attack.
Prevention, Step One: Education and Training
You wouldn’t let your unlicensed employees drive your company van, would you? Like driving, you and any employees that have access to your business network must have a foundational education before taking the wheel.
What are your security policies? Are they well defined?
Do all your employees understand the most common hacking tactics, such as phishing, social engineering, or packet sniffing (to name just a few)?
Education and awareness across your staff will go a long way to protect yourself against many types of cybercrime.
Prevention, Step Two: Securing Computers, Digital Assets, and Networking
How safe is your vehicle? Sure, small-business budgets are tight, and finding ways to save is always going to be a priority for small-business owners, but most of us wouldn’t drive without our seat belts securely latched or in a car without basic safety features.
There are some things you can’t simply cut corners on—and it will save you an incredible amount of money in the long run when considering the risks.
Is all software housed within your network continually up to date? Exploits in software are very common ways hackers gain access to systems and sensitive data. Updating software on network-connected machines should always be a top priority.
Do you have business-class antivirus software installed (and up to date) on all office workstations and servers? Leading antivirus software can detect, remove, and protect your machines and network from malware.
Do you scan your website or web applications for malware? Many of us are used to checking for viruses and malware on our personal computers, but don’t realize that websites and web applications are just as susceptible.
Do you have reliable backups of all of your critical data? Recovering from many types of common cybercrimes often involves restoring your data from a point prior to the event in question. Not having reliable and securely stored backups of your data is a significant liability.
Is your network equipped to handle network-specific attacks? Earlier, we mentioned a common type of network attack called a DDOS. Unsophisticated networks are particularly susceptible to these, as DDOS mitigation devices and tools often require enterprise-sized budgets. If you own a small business, this type of luxury wouldn’t normally be practical, financially speaking. However, with the growing adoption of cloud and utility computing services, using a quality cloud-computing partner— one that has already invested the necessary capital to protect its network—is a cost-effective solution.