How to Protect your Small Business from Cyber Attacks

By Luke Smits - Founder & Operations Manager
Two members of a small business discuss their cyber security

Cyber security threats and attacks are growing worldwide and the larger hacks, like Optus and Canva are better known for obvious reasons, but larger corporations like these have the budgets to invest in large-scale cyber security protections and agencies. This has led cyber criminals to pivot towards small and medium businesses that are less likely to have inhouse teams or large agencies to protect their data and systems.

If you run a small business this could mean you’re more vulnerable to a cyber attack. So, we’re going to run through X top tips on how to protect your small business from cyber attacks.

What is a Cyber Attack?

A cyber attack refers to an unauthorized and malicious attempt to gain access to, disrupt, or damage computer systems, networks, devices, or data. Cyber attacks can be carried out by individuals, groups, or even nation-states, with the intention of stealing sensitive information, causing disruption, or inflicting harm for various motives, including financial gain, political or ideological reasons, or simply for malicious intent.

There are numerous types of cyber attacks, including but not limited to:

Malware: Malicious software that is designed to infiltrate or damage computer systems, such as viruses, worms, and ransomware.

Phishing: An attempt to deceive individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, or financial data, by posing as a trustworthy entity through emails, messages, or websites.

Denial of Service (DoS) or Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks: Overloading or flooding a system or network with traffic to render it unavailable or unusable.

Social engineering: Manipulating individuals into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that may compromise security, often through psychological manipulation or deception.

Insider threats: Attacks perpetrated by individuals with authorized access to a system or network who abuse their privileges for malicious purposes.

Zero-day exploits: Exploiting unknown vulnerabilities or weaknesses in software or systems before they are patched, allowing unauthorized access or control.

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): Coordinated and sophisticated attacks targeting specific organizations or entities over a prolonged period of time, often aimed at stealing sensitive information or conducting espionage.

The consequences of cyber-attacks can be severe, resulting in financial loss, reputational damage, legal and regulatory implications, and disruption of critical infrastructure.

You can protect against attacks with robust cyber security measures. We have written more about Cyber Security here.

With all of our tips for protecting your small business from cyber attacks there are consistent tips that apply to almost all areas and these are:

  • Limit administrator privileges
  • Educate your employees
  • Have an incident response plan and back up to reduce the impact on your business
  • Keep your software up to date - which helps to mitigate known vulnerabilities

How to protect your small business from Malware

Here are the best ways to protect your small business from malware:

  1. Install and update anti-virus software
  2. Use strong, unique passwords for all log ins and avoid default or common passwords
  3. Enable firewalls
  4. Implement security measures such as spam filters and content filters
  5. Be cautious with downloads and attachments
  6. Regularly monitor and audit your systems

How to protect your small business from DoS attacks

Here are the best ways to protect your small business from a DoS attack:

  1. Implement network defences like firewalls, intrusion detection and load balance filters
  2. Use rate limiting to limit the number of incoming requests from single IP addresses or a range of IP addresses
  3. Enable traffic monitoring
  4. Use content delivery networks (CDNs)
  5. Enable SYN floor protection – this refers to a specific type of DoS attack
  6. Use cloud-based services, like Dropbox or Microsoft365
  7. Collaborate with your ISP to implement DoS protection mechanisms, such as rate limiting or traffic filtering

How to protect your small business from Social Engineering

Here are the best ways to protect your small business from a social engineering attack:

  1. Verify identities
  2. Use strong authentication, like multi-factor
  3. Limit information sharing
  4. Beware of unsolicited requests
  5. Review and update policies
  6. Monitor for suspicious activity

How to protect your small business from Insider threats

Here are the best ways to protect your small business from insider threats:

  1. Implement access controls and limit access to sensitive data
  2. Conduct background checks
  3. Monitor and audit activities
  4. Enforce security policies
  5. Foster a positive work environment. Employees who feel valued and engaged are less likely to engage in malicious activities or make unintentional mistakes that may pose risks to your business.
  6. Regularly review access permissions

Talk to us about Microsoft 365 as hit has some of these features built in.

How to protect your small business from Zero-day exploits

Here are the best ways to protect your small business from zero-day exploits:

  1. Use reputable software from vendors with a history of timely and regular security updates
  2. Implement security measures like a firewall
  3. Use multi-factor authentication
  4. Monitor and audit
  5. Enable automatic updates
  6. Implement application whitelisting, which allows only approved applications to run on your systems, and blocks all other unknown or unauthorized applications

How to protect your small business from Advanced Persistent Threats

Here are the best ways to protect your small business from advanced persistent threats:

  1. Implement security measures like a firewall, VPNs etc
  2. Use multi-factor authentication
  3. Use security information and event management (SIEM) systems and other security monitoring tools to detect and respond to potential APTs
  4. Encrypt sensitive data
  5. Vulnerability scanning
  6. Segment your network

 

Cyber attackers are persistent and inventive, willing to alter their strategies and victims in aid of a successful breach.

By following our tips and implementing a cyber security strategy your small businesses can reduce its vulnerabilities and enhance your ability to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber attacks.

Have a question about Cyber Security? Get in touch.



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