Cybersecurity is becoming the number one priority for any business or individual online. Research suggests that almost 22% of companies globally have been targets of cyberattacks. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware and prepared for this kind of online crime. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.
Cyberattack: What is at Risk?
Big companies and government institutions used to be the main targets of cyber threats. But now, cyberattacks are becoming more common in small and medium-sized businesses. The rise of the internet means that every business should strengthen its cybersecurity framework. Cyberattacks in the industry mainly target clients’ personal information, banking details, intellectual property, and the company’s online infrastructure (e.g., crashing the website and taking over control of IT systems).
Why do hackers and scammers target small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)? The top reasons are weaker and/or outdated online security systems and lack of knowledge about cyberattacks. Cybercriminals may be using data they stole from SMEs to attack more prominent companies. Through threats like ransomware, viruses, malware, and phishing, it’s impossible to predict the next cyberattack victim. The best thing you can do is prevent it from happening—or at the very least minimize the impacts.
The Impacts of Cyberattack on Your Business
The pandemic results in businesses around the world fully utilizing online services. Whether you realize it or not, you have put your phone numbers, email, address, and even your national identification number. According to a report by Cisco, about 50% of SMEs in Malaysia had suffered significant losses due to cyberattacks in 2021. It’s more than just stolen data; cybercrime can affect your business in several ways:
- Financial losses: Don’t skimp on building a more reliable cybersecurity framework! When you fall victim to online scams, your business has to shell out more money to patch the security system, notify stakeholders and clients of the breach, and release a public statement. Not to mention if the hackers ask for a ransom, this will be a significant financial burden for your company.
- Damaged reputation: Customers, partners, and suppliers may choose to back out of companies that failed to secure their data from cyberattacks. It reflects your business’s reliability and professionalism, especially if it is internet-based.
- Legal consequences: Your customers or clients will also be the victims of cyberattacks. They may even sue your company for misconduct. If found guilty, be prepared to pay off millions and regulatory sanctions.
- Business interruptions: The amount of time lost to recover from a cyberattack could be used to operate your business. This means that your business will experience a drop in revenue.
How to Protect Your Business
You may want to check how secure your business is. Identify the most valuable IT assets in your business and calculate the damage it would have if a hacker stole them. Then, you can follow these simple steps to prevent large-scale attacks:
Back up and secure sensitive data
If a hacker withholds essential data, you can still operate your business using recovered files. It’s advisable to back up files frequently to a hard disk or cloud storage. You may want to do it daily for files your business uses every day. You can choose to do it weekly, monthly, or quarterly for other files. You can encrypt sensitive information in your devices and use multifactor identification to double the protection. Also, make sure that your desktop, laptop, and smartphone have the most updated software.
Establish a policy
Cyberattacks can happen due to negligence and ignorance. Make a written policy and train your employees on how to safely use and share data, devices, emails, and websites. For example, teach them not to give personal information or sensitive data.
Use VPN and antivirus software
A virtual private network (VPN) protects your IP address, which gives a layer of anonymity. VPN and antivirus are must-have items for your business and personal life as they can filter out malware and viruses.
Don’t reuse passwords
Most online accounts can be hacked due to short and repetitive passwords. Refrain from using the same passwords on multiple accounts. Consider using a password manager to help you create a long and complex password for each account.
Invest in cyber insurance
Mitigate your risk and potential losses by using cyber insurance services. Make time to do your research and find a trusted insurance provider.
Although it can be costly to protect your business from cyberattacks, it’s worthwhile in the long run. As technology becomes more sophisticated, businesses should take a step in updating their digital infrastructure.
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