When faced with unknown dangers, it pays to formulate a strategy to protect your small business.
A case in point: Your business has a computer network that you rely on to keep everything humming along smoothly. If your system crashed or if criminals broke in to steal data or delete files, how long would it take for you to restore the network? Not only will employees be idled until you sort out the problem, your customers also will be left in the dark, waiting for you to restore service.
Cybersecurity attacks happen pretty constantly, and you don’t want your small business to be the next victim. A cybersecurity attack will cost you more than money—you’ll also be paying in the form of your reputation as a business and lost customers.
The minimum requirements for good cybersecurity for businesses are endpoint security, firewall and intrusion detection, and vulnerability scanning. With that in mind, here are three cybersecurity strategies that your small business needs to implement sooner rather than later.
1. Endpoint Security
The endpoints in your company are the devices used by the end-users. This includes smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers. They are the main point of contact to your company’s computer network and as such need protection.
If your organization allows workers to carry their own smartphones and laptops to do company business under a Bring Your Own Device program, your IT department will need to establish a policy to keep them secure.
This will include mandating strong passwords that employees must change periodically and giving the IT department permission to track the phone (in case it is lost or stolen) and the ability to wipe its memory clean if they fear a criminal will use the device to access sensitive company information.
You’ll shore up endpoint security by installing the latest anti-virus on your network. Endpoint security applications will encrypt your sessions and will control how devices can connect to the network and access data.
Make sure your employees remain on guard against social engineering, where hackers attempt to trick workers into giving up their login credentials, such as by calling and claiming to be from the security team. All workers should be trained on how to avoid clicking on links to malware or visiting sites lacking basic security features.
2. Firewall & Intrusion Detection and Prevention
Hackers prowl around networks, looking for weaknesses in computer security.
For these criminal hackers, it’s often a numbers game. The focus is on discovering the easiest computer systems to break into, to maximize their time. Installing a firewall and using software to not only detect threats but to prevent them should be high on your list of security priorities.
Get started by reviewing trusted reviews of the major firewall systems, or by consulting with experts who can guide you into selecting the best system for your use case. Firewalls come in two types: Software firewalls are based on software that you install, while hardware firewalls are actual devices that are built into your router. When using security software from a cloud computing platform, you are said to be relying on a cloud firewall.
To be clear, a firewall is a software solution that keeps unauthorized people from accessing your network, while permitting all authorized connections (such as an employee logging into a database or a customer checking her account status).
An Intrusion Detection System differs in that an IDS sits on the network or host to monitor signs of intrusion and report them. The firewall is actively blocking connections, while an IDS focuses on reporting the issue so IT professionals can step in and stop the unauthorized access. In information technology, we often refer to firewalls as security guards while intrusion detection systems operate more like security cameras.
It’s important to install these countermeasures to hackers because otherwise, your system could be breached without warning,
3. Vulnerability Scanning
If you don’t test your network, how can you tell how strong or vulnerable you are to criminal hackers? Vulnerability scanning is of the utmost importance. A company uses a vulnerability scanner application to examine the entire network, finding all connected systems, from scanner/copier/printer machines, laptops and desktop computers, switches, and firewalls.
The scanner inventories all of these devices, showing what operating system each one uses and what software is being used. It will also detect which users have accounts on these devices and what ports are open for network connections to them.
A scanner helps to simulate what a real-world criminal hacker might try to do to gain entrance, such as by firing off common, weak passwords. The vulnerability scanner then compares the list of devices it identified against a list of devices with established vulnerabilities. It will showcase which of them you need to upgrade, patch, or otherwise secure against unauthorized access.
Developing a Cybersecurity Strategy for Your Small Business
It would be a shame if your company had to close down operations to address a criminal attack on your computer network.
With businesses being hacked regularly by criminal hackers from around the world, developing a small business cybersecurity strategy should be a top priority. But without in-house expertise in your IT department, you will remain vulnerable. Contact Millennia to discuss how our team can help you design and implement a customized cybersecurity strategy today.