Cybersecurity Basics, A Complete Guide for Small Businesses


61% of security breaches happen to small businesses, and that number is rising. That's because hackers know that small businesses owners don't pay attention to cyber-security.

But you're not a sucker. You know that cybersecurity is just as important for a small business as it is for a big corporation. So, how do you protect your business?

In this article, we'll teach you the cybersecurity basics. Read on and protect your business.

Types of Cyber Attacks

Before we teach you how to protect your business, you need to understand what you're up against. Hackers can attack you in hundreds of ways and they're coming up with new methods all the time. Below, we'll talk about the most common types of attacks against small businesses.

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) Attack

In a DDoS attack, hackers send millions of requests to your network at the same time. The point is to overload your servers and shut down your business's website or network.

By itself, a DDoS attack is nothing more than a temporary inconvenience for you and your customers. But some attackers will use the shutdown period to launch a separate attack on your vulnerable network.

APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) Attack

In an APT attack, hackers slowly infiltrate your network over a long period of time. If they're successful, you won't realize you're under attack until they've already stolen your data.

Phishing Attacks

In a phishing attack, hackers set up a fake, professional-looking website and use it to gather sensitive information from you or your employees. For example, they might send you an email telling you that you've won a prize. The email will direct you to a website that asks for some identifying information.

Once you give up this information, they use it to infiltrate your network or steal your identity.

Password Attacks

In a password attack, hackers attempt to infiltrate your network by guessing employee passwords. They often take a "brute force" approach, in which they guess millions of random passwords a minute, hoping that at least one of them is correct.

Malware Attacks

In a malware attack, hackers put harmful software directly onto one of the computers in your network. This often happens when an employee downloads something from a suspicious link.

Once these programs are active on your network, they can do damage in a variety of ways. Malware can delete files, steal files, spy on users, and much more.

Ransomware Attacks

A ransomware attack is a specific type of malware attack. In a ransomware attack, the malware shuts your network down, holding your company hostage. The hackers then contact you demanding a specific amount of money in order to free your system.

These attacks can be very costly, and in many cases, businesses are forced to bite the bullet and pay to avoid losing even more money in lost profits.

Inside Attacks

An inside attack is an attack that comes from someone who has administrative access to your network. It could be a disgruntled former employee or even a current employee.

Cyber Security Basics: How to Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Attacks

Defending your business against such a broad range of possible attacks may seem impossible. But employing a handful of basic measures will go a long way toward keeping your business and your data safe.

Update Your Computers

It's a simple task but many small businesses don't do it. Keep your computers and your software up-to-date. Out of date equipment is far more vulnerable to an attack than new equipment.

Make Sure Your Wi-Fi Network Is Secure

Don't give employees the password unless you need to (instead, give them computers that are already connected). And change the password every so often. If you want to give clients access to Wi-Fi, set up a different network.

If hackers get access to your Wi-Fi network, they're only a few steps away from stealing your data.

Use Firewalls and Antivirus Software

Most modern operating systems come with firewall and antivirus software. Use them and update them regularly.

Educate and Manage Your Employees

Set up a cybersecurity training course for all your new employees. Teach them to recognize phishing attacks, and tell them not to give out information online.

Make sure they never download new software while at work. Provide them with all the software they'll need to do their job.

Instruct employees on how to come up with safe passwords, and have them change their password every month.

When an employee leaves the company, eliminate their access credentials. This will help prevent a future inside attack.

Encrypt Your Data

Even if you do everything right, clever hackers may still be able to get to your data. As a last defense, encrypt your data.

Encrypted data is unreadable to anyone without the decryption key. So even if hackers steal your data, they won't be able to to do anything with it. Learn how to encrypt your data and start the process as soon as possible.

Back Up Your Data

Always store your data in multiple locations, and make sure at least one of those locations is offline. If hackers do manage to steal everything, you won't have to start from scratch. You'll probably have a lot of damage control to do, but at least you'll be able to continue doing business.

Take Cybersecurity Seriously

Now that you know the cybersecurity basics, you need to put them into practice. 87% of small business owners don't think they're at risk of a cyber attack. But you know better.

Take what you've learned in this article and start protecting your business. Your future depends on it.

If you want help getting your business cyber-ready, consider hiring our professional IT team. We'll provide all the benefits of an in-house IT team at a small business price tag.

And if you have any other questions about cybersecurity, don't hesitate to contact us.

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