Cyber Security Tips For Small Businesses

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Cyber Security Tips For Small Businesses

As more businesses move online, small business owners are increasingly focusing on cybersecurity to protect themselves and their customers from cyberattacks.

Our Director, Conor Gallagher, recently spoke with Joe McCann, CEO of Intercept Technologies. Joe provided insights into what cybersecurity is, and the most common types of attacks, and shared tips on simple, quick, and inexpensive ways to enhance cybersecurity for your business. In this guide, we’ll walk you through these steps to help you build up your cybersecurity over time.

What is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity involves implementing measures to protect your online systems, programs, data, and devices from cyberattacks. A cyberattack is any attempt by a cybercriminal or “hacker” to damage or destroy a computer network or system and/or exfiltrate personal and sensitive data. Hackers may try to access private details stored on your networks, such as credit card information, or hold essential software ransom until a payment is made. However, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from attacks and mitigate damage if an attack occurs.

Different Kinds of Cyberattacks:

There are two main categories of cyberattacks: targeted and non-targeted attacks.

  1. Targeted Attacks: These are designed to attack a specific individual or group, such as a government agency.
  2. Non-Targeted Attacks: More common for small businesses, these attacks target large groups of people via the internet, hoping that a small fraction will be successful. Cybercriminals might try to gain system access by prompting individuals to reveal their passwords.

Understanding How Cybercriminals Operate:

Cybercriminals manipulate emotions to induce mistakes that enable them to commit cybercrimes. They often exploit the following emotions:

  • Greed: Tempting offers like “2-for-1” or discounts may lead you to click suspicious links or provide credit card details.
  • Curiosity: Labeling links as interesting content, such as a video or news story, to make you click.
  • Urgency: Creating a sense of urgency, like an email claiming your debit card isn’t working and needs immediate attention.
  • Helpfulness: Engaging in conversation to elicit helpful responses.
  • Fear: Threatening that your bank account will be emptied if you don’t reset your password via a provided link.

Always double-check suspicious communications. For example, if you receive a suspicious email from your bank, visit your bank’s website and contact customer support directly to verify the email’s legitimacy.

How Cybersecurity Applies to Small Businesses:

Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly critical for small businesses as cybercriminals grow more sophisticated and target more people at once.

  • Targeting Small Businesses: Almost half of online attacks are aimed at small businesses, which often lack robust cybersecurity measures, making them especially vulnerable.
  • Simple Systems: Small businesses may use simple systems, like a single computer without an IT department, making them easier targets.
  • Multiple Target Areas: Cybercriminals might target business banking details, client banking details, client lists, and email addresses.

The Impact of Cybercrime on Your Business:

Cybercrime can have several short-term and long-term effects:

  • Financial Losses: From stolen banking details or business disruptions.
  • High Costs: For securing your business against cyber threats.
  • Reputation Damage: If customer data is breached.

Where Small Businesses Are Vulnerable:

Knowing where your business is vulnerable helps you create a protection plan:

  • Passwords: Simple or reused passwords can be easily guessed.
  • Suspicious Links: Clicking on suspicious links can download viruses.
  • Human Error: Sharing passwords or other mistakes can compromise security.
  • Invoice Fraud: Cybercriminals may pose as service providers requesting payment for fake bills.
  • Ransomware: Attackers hold files for ransom until a payment is made.
  • Social Media: Cybercriminals may lock business accounts and demand payment to unlock them.

Quick Wins for Cybersecurity:

There are several simple, quick, and inexpensive steps to protect your business from cyberattacks:

  • Secure Your Email: Use security check-ups from trusted providers ..
  • Secure Your Accounts & Social Media: Enable two-factor authentication for all accounts.
  • Website Security Checks: Use services from reputable providers to scan for malware and vulnerabilities.
  • Protect Your Passwords: Use strong, unique passwords and check if your data has been breached using sites like Have I Been Pwned.
  • Use a Password Manager: Store and manage complex passwords with reputable tools and services.
  • Check Suspicious Links: Verify links using tools like VirusTotal.
  • Back-Up Your Data: Regularly back up data to continue operations if hacked.
  • Leavers Policy: Ensure strict adherence to a leavers, joiners, movers policy.
  • Lock Up Your Data: Lock computers when not in use to prevent unauthorised access.

What to Do if You Are a Victim of Cybercrime:

If your business is targeted by cybercriminals, take these steps to minimise damage:

  • Have a Plan: Create a response plan for cyberattacks, including weekend and holiday scenarios.
  • Educate Employees: Conduct cybersecurity awareness training and workshops to foster a culture of openness about mistakes.
  • Notify Authorities: Inform the Data Protection Commission within 72 hours if personal or sensitive data has been breached.

If you would like to learn more about Intercept’s cybersecurity services for your business, please contact Joe McCann at