4 Telltale Signs Your Business Is Ripe for a Cybersecurity Attack (and How to Respond)


We live in a time when digital technology has become more fully ingrained in our society than ever before. Ecommerce was already experiencing significant growth prior to the global crisis, with the U.S. Department of Commerce reporting 14.9 percent sector growth in 2019.

In addition to ecommerce, technology such as cloud operations, automated tools for managing day-to-day tasks and remote work solutions have become increasingly important for businesses.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that while all of these advancements can improve efficiency and help your bottom line, they also increase your risk for a cybersecurity attack. If you aren’t prepared, the results can be devastating — in fact, the Committee on Small Business estimates that 60 percent of small to medium-sized businesses go out of business within six months of a successful cyberattack.

Understanding your deficiencies and taking preventative actions will prove essential for protecting your digital assets — and your business as a whole.

1. Your employees haven’t received cybersecurity training

Your employees may have your company’s best interests at heart, but they can easily prove to be an unintentional cybersecurity liability. The 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report from Verizon found that 94 percent of malware attacks were delivered via email.

These phishing attempts most often try to convince employees to download a file or click on a link that will install malware on their computers. Many of these emails can be highly sophisticated, designed to look like a message from one of your business partners or someone else within your organization.

Despite this, SmallBizTrends reports that only 31 percent of employees receive annual cybersecurity training. The best firewalls in the world won’t help your company if you don’t account for human error. Make sure your employees know how to identify malware so errant clicks don’t compromise your security.

Related: 10 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Your SMBS

2. You find yourself with inadequate physical security

While you certainly should take steps to establish comprehensive digital security, you cannot neglect your facility’s physical security needs. If someone were to break into your office and steal a computer with confidential files, the results would be just as devastating as if the information was stolen via malware.

A blog post from SysArc, an IT security services provider, notes that such deficiencies even extend to government facilities, where you would expect greater physical security to be present.

“Some auditors found that physical security at DoD facilities was inadequate,” the post notes. “For example, server racks that are not locked up can be compromised by workers or intruders. Similarly, some officials failed to adequately protect classified data that was stored on removable media, which can easily fall into the wrong hands.”

While security cameras and improved entry security can deter break-ins, business owners should also pay close attention to how equipment is used throughout the day. Some facilities may even find it beneficial to effectively ban USB drives, as these devices are easily lost or stolen.

3. You’ve overlooked multi-factor authentication

Despite recommendations to have different passwords for each account, data from Statista reveals that 65 percent of internet users use the same password for some or most of their accounts. This means that a breach at another retailer could help hackers gain access to employee accounts.

Fortunately, multi-factor authentication provides an easy way to counter this. Rather than simply allowing a user to log in with a username and potentially compromised password, it requires that a one-time code be sent to the user’s email or phone before they can complete the login.

This extra step is often enough to prevent a security breach — and can also alert users when an unauthorized individual is trying to log in with their account. Without this system, a major security breach could easily go unnoticed.

As Celu Ramasamy noted in Entrepreneur, other authentication methods could be even more secure: “Fast Identity Online (FIDO), which uses biometric or vocal recognition, is becoming more widely accepted and presents a more secure alternative to passwords. Even technology like blockchain offers a significant upgrade in verifying and authenticating users thanks to robust, transparent protocols that remove the need for obsolete and unsafe passwords.”

4. You haven’t reassessed your security programs

Most business owners understand the importance of installing firewalls and anti-malware programs to protect their networks and devices. But not all cybersecurity tools are created equal. If you opt for a less-than-adequate system that doesn’t continuously update to stop new threats, you will be putting your company at risk.

Hackers are constantly working to discover new cybersecurity vulnerabilities and are quick to take advantage of them. In fact, a report from Security Boulevard found that 60 percent of all data breaches that occurred in 2019 could be attributed to unpatched vulnerabilities. On average, it took 12 days for a security flaw to be patched.

That period is more than enough time for hackers to attack your business — especially if the security flaw gets widely publicized. When partnering with a security vendor, do your due diligence to ensure that they are proactive in identifying and addressing any flaws in your systems.

Related: 4 Major Cybersecurity Risks of Working From Home

Today, take action to protect your business from cyberattacks

From your customers’ financial data to proprietary information related to your products and business operations, there is a lot of valuable data being stored digitally these days. It’s little wonder that even a relatively small business serves as an attractive target for hackers.

By taking a step back to evaluate your weaknesses and then proactively implementing measures to address these issues, you will greatly reduce your risk of a security breach. It just might save your company.

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