According to Statista, data breaches in the United States have affected more than 155.8 million people. These data exposures were often due to users providing malicious individuals with sensitive information by accident primarily because of inadequate IT security.
With the business world continuously becoming more digitized, we can only expect online attacks from cybercriminals to increase as well. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly affected since they are often the target of these attackers.
Ensuring that your company’s cybersecurity is updated and on point can mean the difference between keeping your business data safe or exposed.
To help you on your way to a safer 2022, we have compiled a list of the top 5 tips for a security refresh in the New Year and beyond. Let’s take a look at each one below.
Tip #1: Educate Your Employees to Spot Phishing Schemes
As mentioned above, accidentally sharing sensitive information is the primary cause of data breaches today. Phishing is one of the most common methods cybercriminals employ to obtain business data.
Phishing attempts usually come in the form of emails that appear to be sent from legitimate sources. Hackers trick employees into following through with certain actions that result in them giving up important details.
The techniques these malicious individuals use to phish essential details can be tricky as they are often disguised well. Fortunately, there are ways businesses can identify these attempts and prevent their workforce from being deceived.
- Performing a name check on all senders: Most cybercriminals that use emails to hack into their targets falsify information, specifically the email addresses and contact details they use. They do this to increase the chances of fooling people into believing they are someone known to them. It’s important to note that no reputable individual or firm will ask for sensitive data. That’s why you want your employees to follow the practice of checking emails carefully, especially the names and signatures to ensure they are from trusted users.
- Assess for grammar and spelling mistakes: Email content that has unusual grammar, spelling, or characters is a good indication that it’s from someone who wants to phish for crucial details. These are all signs you need to be careful of when opening emails as they often come from cybercriminals.
- Shock and intimidation tactics: Another common approach that attackers take when phishing for information is to scare their recipients into taking action. Messages that are labeled “Your account has been suspended” and “Urgent action needed” are some examples of these potentially malicious emails.
- Avoid clicking links from unknown users: You should educate all staff and teach them not to click on links within messages that come from contacts they don’t know. Hovering over the hyperlink is one way you can identify a malicious link but sometimes it can be difficult to identify. It’s best to avoid clicking on any link at all unless it’s from a trusted source.
- Report human errors that could lead to security incidents: No matter how educated and trained a workforce is, there’s still the possibility of employees making a mistake during work. Even a single issue could lead to a cybersecurity concern, which is why it’s important to report these instances as soon as possible. Keeping everyone posted ensures that staff can avoid making the same mistake twice.
Tip #2: Incorporate Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
Thanks to the digitization and automation of many business processes, companies around the world are able to save a lot in terms of finances, especially since these can improve business efficiency while promoting success. Small and medium-sized businesses benefit as well since digitization allows them to keep up even with their bigger counterparts.
The problem with everything going digital and connected to the internet is that it also opens up new pathways for malicious individuals to come in and cause problems. Many organizations today only have a few degrees of access before they can be breached, making them particularly juicy targets for cybercriminals.
With role-based access control (RBAC), businesses ensure that only authorized employees can access critical documents and data. This is one of the most efficient ways you can avoid a digital breach nowadays.
RBAC software is capable of restricting access to certain files, making them accessible only to those you have allowed. Using RBAC allows you to enhance your IT security as hackers will have to go through several layers of protection before they can have a chance of getting what they want.
Tip #3: Consider Getting Help from a Managed IT Services Provider
Not everyone can employ an IT security department to take on the wide range of cybersecurity problems in the world. This is especially true for SMBs who often have to rely on outsourced security staff or software to keep their data protected. However, this is often not sufficient since there are many threats and risks that abound nowadays.
For smaller companies, getting help from a managed IT services provider might be an ideal solution. This is because such agencies allow you to access a team of dedicated cybersecurity professionals who are ready to deal with attempts from cybercriminals. A major benefit of these providers is that you don’t need to worry about finding, hiring, and maintaining an internal security team.
You simply have to get in touch with these experts and bring them in whenever needed. In case you need to scale up or down, these managed IT services providers can easily adapt to your requirements.
As a small or medium-sized business, you want to keep your web security at the same levels as major companies so you can survive a potential attack or intrusion. With the help of a managed IT security service provider, you can get 24/7 cybersecurity monitoring, backups, and help desk support at a fraction of the cost of keeping an in-house department.
Tip #4: Patch and Reinforce Gaps in Your Cybersecurity
The Equifax data breach that occurred in 2017 resulted in the personal information of 147 million individuals being compromised by hackers. With sensitive data from countless people exposed already, the multinational consumer credit reporting agency had no choice but to inform the public about this dilemma.
What makes this story even more shocking is that Equifax decided to keep their mouths shut about the issue until it could no longer be ignored. They blamed a recent software update to have caused the cybersecurity breach that has happened to them.
That’s why companies today should not put off any software updates that come up in their notifications tray. They need to prioritize and apply these changes as soon as possible since it means that a potential exploit can happen to you if you don’t.
Small and medium-sized businesses should look towards patching any vulnerabilities in their IT security and apply the latest measures to ensure that they are safe from attackers.
Tip #5: Implement Authentication Protocols and Virtual Private Network Capabilities
Most online application attacks from cybercriminals are often a result of stolen credentials or weak security protocols. Implementing the best standards in authentication can help strengthen cybersecurity and keep you away from harm.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) or multifactor authentication (MFA) are protocols you want to consider. These systems provide additional protective layers to your network that can ensure the safety of your data from breaches. Meanwhile, end-to-end encryption also provides a boost in IT security since it can make hacking company data a lot harder for malicious individuals.
Another thing to consider is to leverage reputable virtual private network (VPN) capabilities. There are many IT security brands today that offer VPNs that allow remote employees to continue operating without sacrificing their cybersecurity.
Working in an unsafe wireless network should no longer be the case for businesses today. Instead, they can take advantage of added security even for their employees who are working beyond the office.
2FA and MFA authentication protocols, end-to-end encryption, and VPN are just a few examples of how you can solidify your business’ security.
Heading into 2022
Cybersecurity continues to be a major concern in 2022 and in the years to come especially with the amount of private and essential business data entrusted to companies today. For customers and clients to continue patronizing your brand, it’s imperative that they can put their trust in you by guaranteeing the safety and security of their information.
Here are the top 5 things you can do right now to get started:
- Start training your employees to identify potential phishing schemes.
- Incorporate role-based access control to provide access to important data only to authorized personnel.
- Consider getting help from a managed IT security services provider.
- Fix and reinforce gaps in your cybersecurity.
- Take advantage of authentication protocols and VPN capabilities.
The tips provided above are designed to help small and medium-sized companies in making sure their IT security meets the changing cybersecurity environment in the coming years. By following the advice provided, you should be able to perform a refresh of your IT security and keep your data safe from malicious individuals.