With how most people and businesses are now actively using the internet and even relying on the internet and social media, many criminals are also looking for opportunities to take advantage of other people via the internet.
This is why various forms of cyber-attacks are rapidly growing in popularity. 68% of businesses experienced phishing and social engineering attacks in 2018, and in the first half of 2019 alone, cyber-attacks have exposed 4.1 billion of customer information. We can expect these numbers to continue growing in 2021 and onwards.
An important consideration, however, is that cyber-attacks are not a threat faced by multinational companies and huge enterprises. With bigger companies getting more serious about their cybersecurity measures, more and more cybercriminals are now targeting small and medium-sized businesses. So, if you are like 85% of small business owners that believe their company is safe from cyber-attacks, think again. Here, we will share some actionable tips you can use in protecting your system against cyber attacks, beginning with the first one:
1. Get a Secure Hosting Provider
Nowadays, building and running a website are easier than ever. You can use free platforms like WordPress to easily build your site, and there are also easier options using visual builders where you can easily drag and drop your website elements.
However, not using a reliable and secure hosting server will significantly affect your site’s security. This is why making sure your website is hosted by a reliable hosting service is very important, especially if your site also processes online payments.
Today’s modern website builder services like Wix or Weebly offer their own free hosting services. Some of them are pretty reliable, but if your budget allows, you might want to update to a hosting service according to your website’s requirements. A reliable hosting service can also help with your site’s speed and overall reliability.
Especially if your site contains a lot of sensitive information, consider upgrading to a dedicated/private server or a virtual private server (VPS). As an added bonus, premium hosting services tend to provide their security services. So, for example, if there’s an incoming layer 7 DDoS attack, your hosting service can help block the malicious traffic and eliminate the attack.
2. Update Your Software Regularly
In approaching cybersecurity, it’s very important to remember that no software is 100% perfect. Even your most expensive, state-of-the-art software would have its own vulnerabilities.
However, reliable software developers will regularly release patches and security updates to fix these vulnerabilities. This is how we can prevent hackers, cybercriminals, and viruses to exploit these vulnerabilities.
This is why you should always update all software whenever any patch or update is possible. In 2017, for example, Equifax experienced a massive and serious data breach because hackers found vulnerabilities in Equifax’s unpatched security software. Updating your software is now a fairly simple and accessible task, so make sure to set a regular schedule to update your software and OS regularly.
3. Get a Reliable Firewall to Protect Your Network
Your firewall and bot detection software like DataDome is your first line of defense when an attacker tries to attack your network and your server.
A firewall’s main job is to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic. It will filter out malicious and/or unwanted traffic based on predetermined policies or rules. For example, we can tell the firewall to block any traffic coming from a certain IP address.
Thus, a proper firewall can automatically block the traffic when it notices any malicious activity, and will also protect your system from malware and other cybersecurity threats.
With that being said, here are some important considerations before getting a firewall solution:
- The firewall should be capable of monitoring SSL encrypted traffic and information
- Remember that a firewall is not an antivirus solution. You can get a firewall that offers a built-in antivirus solution or get separate antivirus software.
- Make sure the firewall solution offers spam filtering, deep packet inspection, and application filtering
- The firewall solution must be able to find a device by a user name and not by an IP address alone, so you can identify how many devices each user is using
4. Installing Antivirus Software
Virus and malware can be a major cybersecurity threat since when one of the devices in your network is infected, all other devices are also potentially compromised. In an IoT system, for example, when a sensor is infected, the malware can easily spread to other devices in the IoT network.
This is why getting reliable antivirus software is a very important aspect of any system’s cybersecurity.
You should try to get an antivirus that offers proactive threat protection instead of reactive. Meaning, it protects your system before an attack has occurred, and not after. Your antivirus solution should offer:
- Preventive file scanning: the system will check any new files for potential virus/malware before you open them.
- Complete system scan: you can manually trigger the antivirus solution so it analyzes your device for any potential infections.
- Web browsing protection: filters URL links and websites to check their potential risks.
5. Educating Your Team In Cybersecurity Threats and Best Practices
Human error remains one of the biggest causes of common cybersecurity threats. So, educating your team about common cybersecurity threats like phishing and best practices like using a strong password is very important.
You should consider training your whole team for cybersecurity, and repeat it as needed. Here are some important points to consider:
- Not to provide any personal information. Both over the phone and in an email. Cybercriminals often use social engineering approaches like pretending to be the HR or even the CEO of the company to trick employees for sensitive information. Create a clear policy surrounding information sharing.
- Never click any links in an email. Especially if the email comes from illegitimate sources outside the company.
- Never open attachments unless you are sure. If you are unsure about the sender, don’t open any attachment even if it looks legitimate.
The number of cyber-attacks has increased dramatically over the past few years, causing substantial damages not only from a financial point of view, but it can also cause long-term and even permanent damages to the company’s credibility.
Proper cybersecurity best practices like the ones we have shared above can help you reduce the risk of potential data breaches, hacking attempts, DDoS attacks, and any other cybersecurity threats. So, implementing them is very important to ensure that your data is 100% secured.