How do small- and medium-sized businesses recognize an attack and prevent it from happening?

How do small- and medium-sized businesses recognize an attack and prevent it from happening?

Contrary to popular belief, medieval castles weren’t easy to penetrate. This was because the structures were designed to be as defensive as possible, ensuring that every element would work together to hold out against sieges. Massive curtain walls, treacherous moats, and spectacular towers offering strategic vantage points were just some of the mechanisms used back in the day.

Now try imagining your business as a castle, just without the adequate protection. It’s undeniable that external threats are targeting businesses of all sizes, aiming to pillage and plunder. By neglecting the implementation of proper cyber defense systems, you’re as good as toast! Your small- or medium-sized business would definitely benefit from ramping up your defenses, ensuring your networks, devices and data are kept safe and sound -- because small leaks are capable of sinking great ships.

According to a 2016 report conducted by Keeper Security and the Ponemon, approximately 50 percent of small businesses have been breached in the past 12 months. In order to prevent your business from becoming another statistic, here are some things you need to know about cybersecurity and how it affects your SMB:

Why do hackers target small businesses?
The size of your corporation doesn’t guarantee your safety against cybercriminals. According to Stephen Cobb, a senior security researcher at the antivirus company ESET, small businesses fall into hackers’ cybersecurity “sweet spot.” SMBs have more digital assets when compared to individual consumers, but are less secure than larger enterprises. According to this infographic from Towergate Insurance, over 82 percent of small business owners firmly believe that they’re not targets for attacks because “they don’t have anything worth stealing.”

Short for malicious software, malware refers to any program that is introduced into the target's computer with the purpose of causing damage, gaining unauthorized access, or displaying unwanted advertising. Under the malware umbrella, other types of hostile software exist such as worms, trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, as well as scareware. All of these are designed to penetrate different areas of a targeted computer system, and can be found in various guises such as executable code, scripts, active content, and even look like other software, making them virtually undetectable until it's too late.

The easiest way to fend off malware is to invest in antivirus and anti-malware software, where an on-access real-time scanner hooks deep into your operating system's core functions and looks for any signs of malicious code. Any time the operating system accesses a file, the on-access scanner checks if the file is 'legitimate' or not. If the file is identified as malware by the scanner, the access operation will be stopped, the file will be dealt with appropriately, and the user will be notified.

Unlike its pleasant, aquatic counterpart, phishing refers to hackers attempting to collect sensitive information like login credentials and credit card numbers by disguising themselves as a trustworthy entity in an electronic correspondence, often sent to unsuspecting individuals via email. Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter personal information at a fake malware-infected website.

On top of installing anti-virus and anti-malware software, you can also prevent phishing attacks from causing chaos by staying vigilant. One of the first things you can do is to double-check embedded URLs. If you hover over them and the links don’t match, that’s a red flag. Other tell-tale signs include: misleading domain names, messages with poor spelling and grammar, an email asking for personal information or asking you to send money to cover some expenses, or messages that come from so-called government agencies. By paying extra attention the next time you receive a funny email, you can spare your business from serious downtime.

Finding the right security solution
Beginning with a risk assessment is a good idea since there is no “one-size-fits-all” security solution. There are various security solutions available. Antivirus software is ideal for fending off most types of malware. Firewalls provide an additional layer of protection by preventing unauthorized user access. Businesses should also consider investing in data backup solutions to recover lost or stolen information. Other options include encryption software to protect sensitive data such as client/customer information and financial statements, and two-step authentication or password management software for internal programs to reduce the likelihood of password-cracking.

With the proper security tools in place, cybercriminals won’t be able to lay a finger on your business. Think of these tools as the building blocks of an impenetrable fortress. Small-business owners shouldn’t rely on the fact they are ‘small’; in today’s modern world, everyone has the potential to be a target, or probably already is one.

In order to achieve success as well as sustain corporate longevity, reliable security solutions are a vital component. Get in touch with Complete Technology and allow us to help you fend off cybercriminals who wreak havoc on what matters most. Our team is ready to do everything in their power to secure your business.

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