Security Liability in the Age of Hacking: How a Company Can Protect Itself to Avoid Lawsuits
How to Prevent a Cyber Attack
Whether you’re a SMB, mid-sized business, or a large enterprise, it’s essential to protect your company’s data. Not only does a data breach threaten your company’s financial security, but it also attacks your viability — up to 60 percent of small-to-midsized businessesdo not survive data calamities. What’s worse is that SMBs are a favorite target of hackers because of their high-reward, low-risk nature.
So, how do you protect your company data from hackers? Find out below.
What Is Hacking?
Hackers find weaknesses in computer systems or networks and use them to gain access to confidential data. This data can be used for everything from identity theft to corporate espionage. Hacks can also be used to plant viruses or take over a company’s systems to conduct activities like making bank transfers or sending data to unauthorized personnel.
Why Do Data Breaches Happen?
Data breaches can be incredibly costly for businesses and usually occur due to technological or behavioral weaknesses, such as an unencrypted system or poor password practices. Understanding where breaches come from is key to knowing how to avoid being hacked. Some of the motivations behind data breaches include:
- Employee error
- Malicious intent to steal personal information
- Corporate espionage to steal trade secrets or confidential data
The Cost of Getting Hacked
The expenses of a data breach are often devastating to SMBs. Typical costs of a security breach include notification and compensation. Notification costs — which include alerting affected parties and providing credit card monitoring — will vary, though credit monitoring comes with an annual fee of $10 to $200 per person. Compensation, such as through lawsuit settlements, range in price as well. For many SMBs, however, the average cost of recovery is around $149,000. Thus, it’s critical to learn how to protect your company’s data.
The size of a data breach can play a big role in its ramifications. Some of the recent cyberattacks include those from Yahoo and Facebook. Yahoo’s breach left 3 billion records stolen, while the recent Facebook data breach resulted in 533 million Facebook users having their details posted on a hacking forum. These businesses took significant reputational damage from the breaches. Other hacks can cost businesses millions in ransoms, such as the attack from U.S. fuel pipeline hackers that targeted Colonial Pipeline.
Cybersecurity for Remote Work and Digitization
The rise of remote work and more digital-first strategies means businesses have had to adjust their cybersecurity practices. These include concerns such as strangers viewing a screen left open in public or children accessing a work computer in a home office and downloading files infected with malware and other viruses. Other issues stem from new technology needs, like secure computer roll-outs and cloud systems, or new training requirements on the security precautions needed for working from home.
How to Protect Your Business From Hacking
To secure your company’s sensitive information and protect your customers, consider the following steps:
- Educate your team: Ensuring your staff understands company security protocols and how to spot security risks, such as phishing scams, is critical. To educate your staff, incorporate security training into your onboarding materials, and host security seminars to keep your employees up-to-date on the latest threats.
- Secure your software: Outdated business software is often vulnerable, so ensure your programs are running the latest version. You can even set them to check for updates automatically.
- Mobilize your security: The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement is integral to SMBs. If your team uses their personal devices for work, mandate that they use a password or PIN code. To further prevent your business from hacking, take advantage of mobile device management services from a third party.
- Monitor your free Wi-Fi usage: With employees working on the go and the BYOD movement, it’s critical that companies educate staff on how to use Wi-Fi networks, including free ones. To secure the data your team is accessing, use a virtual private network (VPN), which is a security layer that logs parties onto a secure network.
- Separate your cloud data: A favorite tactic for how to protect your company data is data separation. Instead of compiling your files together in the cloud, store them by sensitivity. Boost your security even more by setting user permissions. You can also keep some data offline for additional protection.
- Verify your accounts: As hackers tend to access company accounts remotely, two-step verification is a go-to tactic for preventing someone from hacking into your business network. With two-step verification, anyone logging into your company email or bank account must enter a code, which your designated phone number receives.
- Upgrade your access controls: Many businesses forget about updating their access controls, which is why it’s critical that your company does. Review your requirements for passwords and usernames, as well as your number of login attempts before locking an account. If staff members resign, it’s essential that you disable their accounts and update common passwords.
- Backup your data: If you store files on-premise, back them up on a routine basis. Depending on your setup, you can initiate backups automatically. If you partner with an IT service provider, such as Consolidated Technologies, Inc., our business continuity solution backs up your data every 15 minutes.
- Hide your admin pages: An often overlooked tactic for how to prevent your business from hacking is hiding your admin pages from search engines. If search engines index your admin pages, they’ll appear in search results, which helps hackers infiltrate your website and its data. Hide your admin pages with the robots_txt file.
- Revise your business continuity plan: Today, approximately 60 percent of SMBs are without a formal cyberattack prevention plan. Whether your company maintains one or not, it’s essential to review and revise it. Use your expanded knowledge of data breaches, as well as evolved policies for managing data, to adapt your business continuity plan.
- Protect mobile devices: Install the appropriate software and encryptions on mobile devices to prevent hacks.
- Protect webcams: Webcams can be a source of unauthorized access to an employee’s work. Give employees webcam covers and include webcam-related malware in regular virus checks. Workers can also disable webcams when not in use.
- Review your Internet of Things (IoT) devices: From smart thermostats to connected machinery, IoT devices can work as a bridge to your more secure networks, letting hackers gain access to data. Be sure to follow best practices like changing default passwords, updating software regularly, and segmenting your network.
- Review your online accounts: With so much work occurring online or through the cloud, strong password management is essential. Use programs like LastPass to keep login information secure.
- Put a data breach response plan in place: All businesses need to know what their next steps are in the event of a data breach. These plans include understanding the data that’s at risk, what systems are connected to the breach, and what you plan to do in different situations.
- Monitor third-party partnerships: Consider whether your third-party partners are putting your company at risk. Carefully vet them and implement segmentation if needed.
- Improve your data management approach: Complete a comprehensive evaluation of your data management strategies and ensure that confidential data is as protected as possible. Look at how your database is organized, how information is classified, and access controls.
- Implement multifactor authentication: Multifactor authentication is an essential part of access controls, ensuring two forms of authorization before granting access.
- Add robust encryption: Encryption is necessary for data protection and doing your part to prevent the leaking of important information.
- Educate workers: Training is also necessary for preventing a cyberattack, as many data breaches come from employee errors and a lack of knowledge on phishing attempts or basic data security.
Start Your Free Security Consultation With Consolidated Technologies, Inc.
At Consolidated Technologies, Inc., we offer more than 20 years of experience. Over those decades, we’ve established ourselves as an award-winning provider of managed IT solutions to SMBs throughout New York and the Tri-State area. Learn more about how we can help protect your company’s data from hackers by contacting us today for a free security consultation!