In recent months cyber-attack headlines have swept the globe. Hundreds of thousands of companies are hacked every single day. The dangers posed to organizations by state-backed hackers and cyber-criminals are a real threat.
Furthermore, with many high profile examples of large companies falling victim to cyber-attacks, now is the best time to proactively prevent cyber-attacks on your business.
So to help you get started, here are nine important ways that you can help to protect your business from cyber-attacks.
1. Ensure cyber-attack prevention is a priority
Many businesses don’t take cyber-crime seriously until it is too late. Far too many companies have to suffer a cyber-attack before they realize the need to improve their cyber security. The landscape is changing and your business should be prepared on all fronts.
Simple recreational hacks and organized crime cyber-attacks can take down websites and systems for days. Ask yourself: could your business stand to be without computer services for days? Most business owners would answer with an emphatic “no!” Therefore, to ensure cyber security is a priority, invest in tools and training to prepare your digital lines of defense.
2. Make regular tech updates habitual
One simple habit that can save you headaches down the road: regularly updating everything. Ensure computers and software are always up-to-date. Hackers can easily target vulnerabilities in software that is not updated regularly – it is an easy way into your system.
This includes everything from the obvious stuff like your operating systems and anti-virus software to smaller updates including web browsers. If you ignore technical updates it presents a key weaknesses that hackers can exploit.
3. Prevent cyber-attacks by using cloud services
Keeping everything up-to-date can be quite a hassle, so it’s a good idea to use cloud services to keep your systems and data secure. Naturally, opt for reputable companies.
It’s worth noting that cloud services can be very cost-effective. Operating in-house servers that require regular maintenance and updates are expensive to purchase and run. Cloud services are scalable and flexible, which makes it a fantastic option for many small businesses.
4. Secure laptops too
Computers that are not connected to your infrastructure, but can access it anyway are weak links. Laptops, for example, often have a less secure way of accessing the system that desktops. This can make it easier for hackers to compromise a laptop and gain access to data, passwords and other sensitive information. Make sure that any laptops that are used to gain access to your system are properly secured.
5. Conduct penetration testing
Hire external cyber-security experts to carry out penetration testing on your site and systems. A cyber-security expert will use techniques and software used by criminal hackers to hack your website, servers, hardware, passwords, etc.
Penetration tests are a fantastic way to establish how well your website would stand up to a real-life cyber-attack. A penetration test will often uncover a number of weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
6. Consider ethical hacking
To take things a step further, consider full scale ethical hacking. Penetration testing is a part of this, but ethical hackers will go further — at length — to hack your company.
In this sense, ethical hacking will closely mimic a genuine hack, as the ethical hacker may attempt to use tactics such as surveillance of staff or even social engineering as a way to find a overcome your defenses.
An ethical hacker will simply do their job to try to defeat your defenses and then share the knowledge of how they did it; offering suggestions to prevent cyber-attacks in the future.
7. Educate your staff on how to prevent cyber-attacks
As hackers have become more advanced, sophisticated phishing email scams that look like a genuine request for login details have become more prominent.
If an employee falls for a scam like this, hackers can legitimately enter company systems using employee credentials. This is one of the hardest hacks to detect since the problem can go unnoticed for weeks or months, and by then it is far too late.
8. Implement a strong password policy
Many employees already understand the importance of using strong passwords for their personal accounts, however they may use very weak passwords at work that are easier for them to remember.
It’s even worse when companies have a standardized password for every employee, as this makes passwords even easier to crack. Ensure that passwords contain a minimum of 8 alpha-numeric characters and ensure that they are changed regularly.
9. Create a cyber-attack response plan
There is nothing worse than feeling unprepared for cyber-attacks when they occur. Proactively put a plan in place for various hacking scenarios. Develop a strategy and ensure that relevant team leaders can act swiftly to mitigate a cyber-attack.
This article has been edited.
Sean Boscombe is a technology-buff and writer for cyber threat prevention specialists Redscan.