How to Protect your Small Business from Hackers

How to Protect your Small Business from Hackers

A hacker working on a laptop in the dark - image licensed from unsplash.com

Cyberattacks cost the US economy billions of dollars each year and endanger small and large companies. Small businesses are a much more attractive target than large corporations because they have the information hackers need and generally lack the security infrastructure of bigger enterprises. Antivirus software alone is insufficient to protect against coordinated attacks. Three out of every four ransomware victims have current antivirus software. The primary reason why you shouldn’t rely on antivirus software for protection is that it is pretty predictable and simple to circumvent. Hackers constantly modify their strategy, and antivirus software cannot keep up. Does this mean there is nothing you can do to defend yourself? No. There are a lot of things that you can do, but they require a bit of effort and patience. Therefore, here is how to protect your small business from hackers.

What Exactly Is a Cyberattack?

An unauthorized effort to expose, destroy, or access your small company’s data is called a cyberattack. Small businesses are typically the most vulnerable to cyberattacks and typically are subjected to 1-2 cyberattacks per year. So, if you are not prepared, you may face significant problems later, especially if your company is rapidly expanding. Some of the most common cyberattacks you will find are:

  • Malware:  Malicious software can infect a computer system and cause damage without the user’s knowledge or permission. These days, the most common type of malware is Ransomware. This type of malware encrypts your data and then demands payment to restore it or keep it from being made public.
  • Phishing:  For this type of cyberattack, scammers pose as legitimate businesses that send malicious links to their victims via email or text message. These attacks usually aim to get your passwords or credit card information.
  • Man-in-the-middle attack:  An attack of this type takes place when someone listens in on a conversation between an intended victim and a third party. The goal of these attacks is to steal the victim’s account information. In areas with free public Wi-Fi hotspots, fraudsters may launch these attacks by setting up fake Wi-Fi connections with names that sound like a local business. Symantec claims that if you connect to a scammer’s Wi-Fi network, the scammer may be able to monitor your online activity and steal your personal information.
A pirate flag on a red background is displayed on a laptop.
Caption: Cyberattacks come in a variety of forms. - image licensed from unsplash.com

Now that you know the most common forms of cyberattacks, it’s time to see what you can do to defend your small business.

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First, Use Your Firewall

Windows and macOS both include firewall protection to prevent unauthorized access to your computer. Business networks can benefit from firewalls because they prevent unauthorized users from accessing data. Furthermore, they can also alert administrators of any intrusion attempts. Make sure the firewall is active before connecting to the internet. If your broadband router doesn’t have a firewall built-in, you can always purchase one from a third-party provider. A second business networking firewall may be necessary as your company expands. Nowadays, firewalls are far superior to antivirus software. They do not slow down your computer’s boot time, do not consume additional resources in the background, and are seamlessly integrated into your system. As a result, if you want to protect your small business from hackers, ensure that all of your company’s computers have up-to-date Firewalls.

Second, Educate Your Workforce

With time, cybercriminals change and become more sophisticated. Therefore, it is critical to keep your personnel up to speed on new security standards and to do so regularly. The more your staff understands cyberattacks, and how to protect themselves from them, the more secure your company will be. Periodically remind employees not to open attachments or click on links from unknown or unexpected senders. You can also outline procedures for encrypting personal or sensitive information. Additionally, you can train employees to double-check if they receive rush requests to make unexpected payments. This is a prevalent scam in the business world, so instruct your employees on how to avoid it.

Third: Make Sure That Your Passwords Are Strong

Hacking requires considerable effort and time to complete. That is why hackers will most likely attempt to obtain the necessary passwords before they employ any malicious software. For this reason, an essential strategy to avoid network breaches is to use strong passwords. The more secure your passwords, the more difficult it is for hackers to infiltrate your system. More secure often implies longer and more complicated. Use a password with at least eight characters that include a mix of numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and computer symbols. Hackers have many tools to crack short, simple passwords in minutes. For this reason, the experts from azcitationservices.com advise against using recognizable phrases or combinations that signify birthdays or other personal information. If you wish to protect your small business from hackers, you need to keep this in mind.

A padlock on a keyboard, next to two gold credit cards.
Caption: You will be able to repel a large number of hackers if you have strong passwords. - image licensed from unsplash.com

Fourth, Make Sure You Regularly Update All of Your Software

A skilled hacker can find and exploit even the smallest security hole in your system. Leaving your systems vulnerable to attacks results from neglecting to update them consistently. Ensure your operating system and any applications on your computer are up to date. You may set these up to update automatically, or if you are using an earlier version of Windows, such as 7, you can look into upgrading your company to Windows 10, or even 11, to reduce your chances of a cyberattack.

A laptop undergoing a system update.
Caption: It will be much more difficult for hackers to find an exploit if you keep all of your software and systems up to date. - image licensed from unsplash.com

Fifth, Have a Plan in Place

If you want to know how to protect your small business from hackers in the best possible way, the last thing you can do is to prepare a strategy to deal with a potential data breach. In the event of a security breach, you need to have a procedure and a response team. This includes employee roles and responsibilities, a business continuity plan, a breakdown of resources, network/data recovery methods, and communications protocols. A strategy helps your team function logically and consistently during any security issue.

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