No business is too small for a hacker’s attention. Recent studies show that over 55% of all SMBs experience cyberattack. The moment your business uses a computer, cloud and has an online presence you become “eligible” for a cyberattack.

The scope and impact of cyberattacks has been increasing in the past few years. These threats are no longer limited to data thefts, but have grown into DDOS attacks, malware attacks that render the data useless, and ransomware attacks like WannaCry and ThunderClap.

If you are thinking that leveraging just one technique to stop such diverse threats is close to impossible, you are right! Research shows that there should be quite a few practices that all small businesses and tech startups need to adopt to successfully thwart these threats.

Spot the weakest link in the chain

firewalls and antivirus

According to the BakerHostetler study, the largest number of phishing scams are perpetuated by employees. A significant number of people still click on phishing links within emails sent to their work email accounts. They access personal inboxes and messages from their work PC or using their workplace network.

Unless you are educating your staff about the real threats of phishing scams, it will be difficult for your enterprise to survive the rising threat of data breaches even with the best firewalls and antivirus in place.

Setting up anti-malware software

Antivirus software protection is of course necessary, but what you need right now is an added layer of anti-malware protection. Anti-malware software should be able to stop multiple phishing attacks and ransomware attacks, although they are quite different from the conventional virus attacks.

Enforcing multi-factor authorization

Did you know? Most backdoor entries for malware and hackers come from reckless actions of employees. Whether it is connecting personal devices to company network, or using home devices to log onto company infrastructure, ransomware and malware programs can gain access due to such actions.

Installing multi-factor authentication can stop unauthorized individuals from gaining access to company data. Connecting multiple forms of ID, like username, password along with a company PIN or security code can reduce the number of threats.

Keeping regular data backups

data backups

It is a simple step that almost every enterprise either ignores or simply forgets to reinforce. Backing up data can protect your company’s information and employee information from the snoopers.

When you store data in a separate cloud or a completely different physical location, you ensure that any unauthorized entry to your company infrastructure or operational cloud does not gain access to proprietary data. Segregating and storing data in separate places is possibly one of the least expensive security measures you can take to ensure data security.

Update your password policy

This has to be the most cost-effective and straightforward way to safeguard company information. Always rely on strong passwords in addition to multi-factor authentication.

Verizon reports that close to 65% of enterprises don’t have a set password policy and 63% data breaches arise due to weak passwords being used. Changing passwords or reinforcing new password regulations on every employee can be quite a pain, but it is a necessary step that can go a long way in terms of cybersecurity.

Employ a strong firewall

The FCC recommends the use of a state-of-the-art firewall for providing better protection from cybersecurity threats. The firewall can be a strong barrier between the cybercriminals and company data.

While many evolved viruses and malware threats render traditional or old firewalls impotent, the inclusion of one in addition to multi-step authentication, stronger passwords, and anti-malware software can help you safeguard your data from hackers and malwares in the long-run.

Setting up a plan for mobile devices

Mobile Security

The year has seen a rise in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in almost every small business and tech-based startup. BYOD is common in as many as 59% of all SMEs in the US. While it reduces the operational costs of the enterprises and puts their employees at ease by allowing them to work on familiar devices, it also gives potential hackers an easy access to company infrastructure through personal devices.

Companies should try to include the personal devices including wearable of their employees within a plan or policy. For example, these devices should have security software, updated versions of OSx, and they should conform to the multi-factor authentication of the users.

Clear documentation of cybersecurity policies

Small businesses and tech startups need to document their cybersecurity plans and regulations as soon as possible. Outlining their security policies can help them see the caveats of their security and firewalls.

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) cybersecurity portal can provide you with the necessary checklist, information and online training necessary to thwart the threats of security breaches and malware attacks on your company data. You can also find online toolkits that will help you find the updated best practices for online security.

Include IoT devices as a part of your security plan

If you have smart speakers, BYOD IoT devices and even a smart coffee maker, you need to include them in your cybersecurity plans. Each IoT device can be a potential entry-point for malware and ransomware. That happens typically when a device on the IoT network has older OS versions, or lacks the security firewall to identify malware threats.

DDoS attacks via IoT devices is a persistent threat several sectors in the US have to deal with right now. The least you can do is to ensure that these IoT devices have patches that are up-to-date and passwords that are strong.

Outsource when the responsibility becomes too much!

Okay! This may not be a standard cybersecurity practice, but an increasing number of SMEs and tech startups are outsourcing their security concerns to expert security teams. These teams know all there is to know about malware attacks, data breach and DDoS threats, updated antivirus, anti-malware software and firewalls.

They also know about data storage and backup in secure cloud environments. When micromanaging too many personal devices, and multiple access points becomes too much for you and your IT team, you should definitely think about outsourcing the security requirements to teams of experts, who know how to safeguard your company data, network and infrastructure.

Parting thoughts

Hackers rarely discriminate between enterprises based on their size and data store. They make the best use of any lapse in security they can find. Every tech startup and SME should make the best use of this opportunity to train their employees regarding the persistent threat of malware, phishing attacks and data breaches, in addition to patching up old security firewall and updating their antivirus software.

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