How To Protect Your Small Business From Cyber Threats?

Blockchain admin_scs todayNovember 3, 2021 171 128 4

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INTRODUCTION:

A cyber threat is a malicious act that looks around to damage and steal data or disrupts digital life in general. Cyber threats are also known as the possibility of a successful cyberattack that aims to gain unauthorized access to our computers, damage, disrupt, or steal an information technology asset, computer network, intellectual property, or any other type of sensitive data. Cyber threats can come from within an organization by trusted employees or from remote locations by unknown organizations or parties.

COMMON TYPES OF CYBER THREATS:
MALWARE

Malware is an application that can perform a variety of malicious activities. Some strains of malware are made to build persistent access to a network, some are designed to spy on the user to obtain sensitive information and valuable data, while others are simply built for causing disruption.

PHISHING

A Phishing attack is where the hacker tries to trick an unsuspecting victim into handing over valuable data and sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card details, intellectual property, e.t.c.

Phishing attacks often come in the form of an email pretending to be from a legal organization, such as our bank, the tax department, or some other trusted organization. It is the most common form of cyber-threat, largely because it is easy to perform, and is very effective.

SQL INJECTION

SQL injection is a cyber-attack that is specific to SQL databases. SQL databases use SQL statements to query the data, and these statements are performed and executed via an HTML form on a webpage. If the database request has not been set accordingly, the criminal may be able to exploit the HTML form to perform queries that will create, read, modify or delete the data stored in the database.

ZERO-DAY EXPLOIT

A zero-day exploit is, where cyber-attackers learn a vulnerability that has been located in certain widely-used software applications and operating systems, and then target systems that are using that software in order to utilize the vulnerability before a fix becomes available. Of course, leaching resources from a company network is far less problematic than stealing valuable data.

CLOUD JACKING

Cloud jacking is the procedure by which cloud computing is infiltrated by a third party. Once a cyber hacker gets into your company cloud, they try to recompose the cloud code to manipulate sensitive information, spy on employees and company communications, and enlarge their extent to take control of the whole cloud.

Cybercriminals will also use this as an opportunity to make phishing plans. In these plans, cybercriminals upload fake notices, instructions, documents, or other files to the company cloud. Employees, believing these documents and materials are approved by the organization, download the malicious files or follow the fake instructions.This can result in everything from workers allowing cybercriminals bigger company access, to release sensitive information, to even moving company funds into illegal accounts.

5G-TO-WIFI SECURITY VULNERABILITIES

As cyberattacks carry on with more and more experience, attacks are likely to take place in newer digital domains. In particular, we expect to see cyber attackers surveying ways to attack the 5G-to-Wi-Fi handover.

As 5G becomes more and more widely used, wireless providers are handing off more calls and data to Wi-Fi networks in a try to save bandwidth. And because of this fast growth in 5G, the technology used to safeguard this handover is not yet evolved enough to fully protect the transition. This provides opportunities for cybercriminals to compromise these mobile devices.

Areas that are well-liked for professionals to perform mobile work—such as airports, cafes, and hotels, are hotspots for the 5G-to-Wi-Fi handover. This puts the voice and information on these mobile devices at higher risk. And while these devices have built-in technologies that allow this transition to occur quietly and without notice, investigators have already found danger in such technologies.

VITAL TRENDS FOR COMPUTER SECURITY THREATS IN 2021:

In 2021, 3 major trends for computer security threats have been identified that all businesses should be aware of.

DISRUPTION

Disrupting the business is a dominant way for cybercriminals to divert you, cost you time and money, provoke the users into making quick and insecure fixes, and put them at their mercy. For example, they can use planned internet outages to divert your company, retard business functions and employee productivity.

Cybercriminals can also cause diversion with ransomware attacks, which have gained popularity over recent years. In these attacks, criminals gain access to the information they need, either because it is important to run the business or because it is sensitive data that the user doesn’t want to be leaked. Either way, the hackers take your data hostage and ask for you to pay a payment to get it back.

DISTORTION

With the growth of technology, comes the growth of bots and vehicles of misinformation. This could affect more members of the public to distrust the integrity of data they come across. Or it could cause the opposite: people might mistakenly believe wrong information. In either case, it’s often not good for business. It makes it hard to communicate with consumers or maintain their trust, especially if cyber attackers have falsified data about you or impersonated you.

Hackers are distorting the information and technologies businesses use, too. For example, criminals who hack into your organization might upload fake documents that command employees to move money into the hackers’ account or compromise your security even further.

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DETERIORATION

The deterioration of a company’s complete authority over its business actions can open it up to a number of risks, which cyber attackers are very quick to take advantage of.For example, more and more businesses are executing Artificial Intelligence to increase their efficiency. But if we make use of untested Artificial Intelligence, it could link to unexpected results, including a higher threat to cybercrimes.

Rapid technological development can also mean new federal laws to regulate it, lowering companies’ control. Many expect that increases in surveillance laws could put corporations at risk of having their data exposed. Increased privacy rules can stop businesses from effectively monitoring employees, making it difficult to identify any insider threats.

WAYS OF PROTECTING SMALL BUSINESSES AGAINST CYBER THREATS:

Cyber-attacks are a growing threat for small businesses. Small businesses are attractive and easy targets for hackers because they have information that cybercriminals need, and they lack the security infrastructure of larger businesses. Here are some steps to improve the cybersecurity of small businesses.

ACCESS YOUR BUSINESS RISK

The first and main step of improving cybersecurity is to understand the risk of an attack. From this, small businesses can make the biggest improvements. A cybersecurity risk assessment can recognize where a business is at risk, and it helps to create a plan of action, which  include:

Guidance on securing email platforms

User training

Advice on protecting the business’s information assets

Nowadays, there are several tools available for doing risk assessments. For example, FCC Planning tool, Cyber Resilience Review, Supply Chain Risk Management Toolkit, etc.

TRAIN YOUR EMPLOYEES

Employees and emails are the main sources of data breakage for small businesses because they are a direct way to get into the systems. Training the employees with basic internet best practices about cybersecurity can go a long way in preventing cyber-attacks.

Some major training topics for every employee are as follows:

Recognizing a phishing email

Using good browsing practices

Avoiding suspicious and doubtful downloads

Generating strong passwords

Protecting customer and vendor sensitive information

Keeping a good cyber hygiene

USE ANTI VIRUS SOFTWARE

One of the best and easy practices is to make sure each of your business’s systems is provided with antivirus software and antispyware and should be updated regularly. Such a system is readily available online from a variety of vendors and users. All software vendors regularly provide patches and updates to their products to correct security issues and improve performance. Set up all software to install updates automatically on a regular basis. We recommend that small businesses take the following steps to avoid infection by a virus or malware.

A user must decide which antivirus program will be best for them. There are many free and also paid versions of antivirus programs available. We uplift users to examine trusted sources and reviews of different antivirus programs.

When installing the antivirus program, it is best to arrange scheduled updates. The antivirus program will usually give rise to you during the setup process to schedule a certain time or frequency for updates. We recommend a daily update at a time when your system will be on but not in use by anyone. It is also a good idea to have a thorough first scan to remove any viruses or malware that may already be on the system.

Make sure that scans are performed at regular intervals. Daily scans are recommended at a time when you are not using the system. If you are using a paid antivirus program, it is good to make sure the subscription is renewed to keep away gaps in coverage. Lastly, be very careful about what sites you visit. All a cyber-attacker wants is for you to land on their dirty page or site. Visit only reputable and credible sites. With an antivirus program set up with regular updates and scans, users should feel safe from known threats. Antivirus programs are a key part of a user’s total cybersecurity hygiene practice.

SECURE YOUR NETWORK

Protect the Internet connection by using a firewall and encrypting information and data. If you have a Wi-Fi network, make sure it is secure and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up the wireless access point or router so it does not transmit the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier SSID. Password-protect access to the router.

The main ways to secure the network are:

NETWORK ACCESS CONTROL

To make sure potential hackers cannot invade the network, complete and broad access control policies need to be there for both users and systems. Network access control (NAC) can be set at the most powdered level. For example, you could grant administrators complete access to the network but deny access to specific confidential folders and files or stop their personal devices from joining the network.

FIREWALL PROTECTION

Firewalls act as a blockade between the untrusted external networks and your trusted internal network. Administrators configure a set of defined rules and regulations that blocks and permits traffic onto the network.

VIRTUAL PRIVATE NETWORKS (VPNs):

Virtual private networks (VPNs) build a connection to the network from another site. 

For example, users working from home would connect to the organization’s network over a Virtual Private Network. Data and information between the two points are encrypted and the user would need to validate to allow communication between their device and the network. 

USE STRONG PASSWORDS:

Using strong passwords is an easy and best way to improve cybersecurity for small businesses. Be sure to set different passwords for your different accounts. 

A strong password includes the following. Make sure to use all of these in setting up your password.

10 characters or more

Passwords should not be less than 10 characters.

At least one uppercase letter

One or more uppercase letters should be present in the password. For e.g. A,F,V, etc

At least one lowercase letter

One or more lowercase letters should be present in the password. For e.g. a,f,v, etc

At least one number

One or more numbers should be present in the password. For e.g. 2,4,5, etc

At least one special character

One or more special characters should be present in the password. For e.g. @,#,%, etc.

MULTIFACTOR AUTHENTICATION:

Multi-Factor authentication needs additional information like a security code sent to your phone number as a text message to log in to your account. Look over the vendors that handle sensitive information and data, especially financial institutions, to check if they offer multi-factor authentication for the accounts.

Some features of multi-factor authentication include:

It enforces role-based access policies.

It recognizes users vulnerable to phishing attacks

It monitors and recognizes risky devices

It automatically forces users to update their devices on a regular basis

BACKUP YOUR DATA:

Another practice is to regularly back up the data on all the systems. Critical data includes all the important word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files.

Backup data automatically if possible, or weekly, and save the copies either off-site or on the cloud.

Some common data backup solutions are:

REMOVABLE MEDIA

It is the smallest storage. It is used to transfer files from device to device. It includes CDs, DVDs, USB Flash drives, etc. It does not come with a large storage capacity and does not have additional security features. It can store data from 128MB up to 256GB.

EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES

It is the Ample storage. They are connected to computers via cables or wirelessly. Examples are USB Flash drives and SSDs. It can store data from 128GB to 10TB.

CLOUD BACKUP

It is flexible storage. Cloud backups allow computers to backup their data to hardware. Users can access and manage their data anytime from cloud backup. Cloud backups include iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox. They can store a very large amount of data.

BACKUP SERVICES

It is the most storage. A backup service is a method of putting a person or service in charge of your data backups. This is because they have access to strong backup software, hardware applications, and hybrid data backup solutions. Like the cloud, the storage option is unlimited.

SECURE PAYMENT PROCESSING:

In the secure payment processing step, we work with banks or card processors to guarantee the most trusted and validated tools and make sure the anti-fraud services are being used. We may also have additional security responsibilities related to agreements with the bank or processor. Separate payment systems from other, less secure programs and do not use the same system to process payments and surf the Internet.

Some common security tips a payment processor should keep in mind are:

Consider moving credit card details to a third party

Need thorough vulnerability scanning

Perform vulnerability scans on a regular basis

Monitor all transactions

Make use of an address verification system

Need a Card Verification Value CVV

Need stronger passwords for users

Make easier for customers to recover their passwords

Use Firewall to secure web applications

Hide personal account numbers and other sensitive data

Make use of tokenization

Make use of point-to-point encryption

CONTROL PHYSICAL ACCESS:

Block access or use of business computers and systems by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up with strong passwords when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is generated for each user and the account requires strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be handed over to trusted IT staff and key personnel.

PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES

Cybercrimes can take many forms and the financial cost of reconstructing after a disaster can be overwhelming and immense. If the small businesses are prepared for emergencies, they’ll be in a far better position to recover. Some simple steps to get prepared for emergencies are:

MONITORING AND EARLY WARNING

Each organization for cybersecurity affairs should actively monitor security on their local network and information systems. The security monitoring systems should involve early warnings including an alert and response plan, and investigation, and thorough analyses.

EMERGENCY RESPONSE

When a cybersecurity event occurs, organizations should immediately initiate their emergency response plan and announce the breakage in a timely manner. All departments in relevant organizations should immediately execute plans to control the situation and identify the risks.

INVESTIGATION AND ASSESSMENT

The investigation and assessment of a cybersecurity event should be finished within 30 days after the emergency response terminates. 

PREVENTION

All organizations and departments should build up prevention plans, organize emergency plan training regularly, perform cybersecurity education sessions, and give professional skills training to enhance deterrent measures. 

SAFEGUARD MEASURES

All organizations and departments should promote laws, rules, regulations, and policies to help stop cybersecurity incidents through media and other promotion procedures, as well as educational activities to increase the public’s basic understanding of cybersecurity. 

Principal steps in an early response plan for cyber security events:

There are three main key steps that are to be taken in the early response plan for cyber security events:

STEP 1: CONTAIN, ASSESS, AND RECOGNIZE

Take measures to contain the breakage, Take on a preliminary assessment, and recognize parties to be notified.

STEP 2: ESTIMATE THE RISKS AND DECIDE ON IMMEDIATE MEASURES

Identify the type of the data leaked, the circumstances of the data leaked, the reason and extent of the data leaked, the risk of serious damage to the affected individuals caused by the data leak. 

STEP 3: SATISFY NOTIFICATION DUTIES

Choose an appropriate notification process, Select information to include in the formal notification.

CONCLUSION:

To lower risk and ensure your company is protected from cybercrimes, it is suggested to enhance software security and ensure that the hardware used in network systems for daily work is up to date. Companies should also set up an integrated emergency response scheme and educate employees on cybersecurity risks. 

When cybersecurity events occur, companies should immediately take action, look for professional advice, fulfill notification duties according to given laws and regulations, cooperate with official investigations, and try to lower risks and damages.  After cybersecurity events occur, organizations should immediately fix system bugs, strengthen network security and enhance internal response mechanisms. They must also make sure that their security systems and standards act in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.

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