How to maintain cybersecurity in a new online business
| April 21, 2021
Launching a new online business is exciting but also challenging. And one of the biggest challenges you face is that of keeping your business safe from potential online attacks. In fact, 68% of business leaders feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing.
In 2021, cybercriminals have developed a range of security threats that have the potential to target and harm any online business. These threats can breach your data, compromise it and even hold your entire business ransom.
Online businesses need to do all that they can to build a cybersecurity strategy that helps them thwart potential attacks, with estimates of damages totaling $6 trillion globally in 2021. A cybersecurity strategy will not only give you peace of mind, it will also help you establish trust among your customers and potentially save you money.
In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at the types of cybersecurity threats you face, as well as the tactics you can implement that will help to safeguard your online business.
Types of Cybersecurity Threats to Watch for
Online businesses that haven’t put in place cybersecurity measures face a number of threats in 2021:
Ransomware is a piece of software that is designed to compromise your entire computer system, encrypting your hard drives and preventing you from carrying out your work. The meaning behind the name “ransomware” is that attackers essentially blockade your access until you’ve paid a set ransom fee.
Ransomware has grown in popularity in recent years, and attackers are not discriminatory when it comes to who they target. Everyone is susceptible.
Phishing attacks are one of the most common cybersecurity threats. They typically involve a fraudulent email that has been composed to resemble an entirely legitimate one. The idea is that an unsuspecting member of your team receives the email, opens it and clicks on a link.
Once the link has been clicked, it can lead to the installation of malware. Then sensitive data is released into the hands of the attackers, who can then do whatever they want with it, like make unauthorized purchases, steal funds, or commit identity theft. This data may include passwords and usernames, but it can also include personal data and financial information.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS) essentially flood a business’ website or network with an almost infinite number of information and requests. The intention is to disrupt your operations and prevent you from working until, eventually, your server fails and shuts down.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are by their nature one of the most elusive online attacks because, as their name suggests, they are persistent and hard to prevent, usually because they’re so hard to detect.
Attackers will typically strike strategically with stealth attacks over a prolonged period of time. The attacks are subtle and take place over a number of stages, but the end goal is typically to steal data, disrupt your operations or even spy on your business.
This is How to Build Cybersecurity into Your New Business
To get started in securing your business, we recommend you get started with the below solutions:
Install & Enable a Firewall
A firewall monitors both your incoming and outgoing network traffic. It is able to spot suspicious data packets and block them before they cause trouble.
Firewalls are therefore essential network security devices that should form the building blocks of your cybersecurity strategy. They’re your first line of defense that thwart attacks while you’re able to concentrate on the core aspects of your business.
Because there are different types of firewalls that suit different sized businesses with different needs, here are some things to look out for:
Host-based firewall: This type of firewall protects just one computer, which means that each of your systems needs its own firewall. They’re generally the cheapest and simplest.
Network firewall: A network firewall defends numerous computers at the same time and are typically harder for attackers to get past.
Enterprise firewall: An enterprise firewall is especially useful for larger businesses with multiple networks and users. They tend to include advanced monitoring and VPNs and command the highest price.
Ensure That Network Equipment & Devices Are Updated Frequently
Often, simply updating your network equipment and devices can be enough to prevent an attack. Why? Because when a system isn’t utilizing the latest updates, it’s highly vulnerable to attackers who have developed new and advanced methods of attack. By updating your systems regularly, you’ll be in a more secure position.
This is where a patch management system comes in. A patch management system makes it easy for you to manage your security by updating all equipment and devices when updates are available. You should train your staff to update any software and components (if relevant) when prompted or, if possible, use automated patch management, which eliminates human action altogether.
Build a Cross-Functional Security Team
While it’s a good idea to employ a cybersecurity team to take care of your online security, that alone isn’t enough. Instead, you should look to build a cross-functional security team using the staff you’ve currently got.
In fact, your whole team can come together — including legal departments, HR, PR and marketing — to remedy attacks and notify suppliers and customers about any data breaches. Indeed, if there is an attack, it’s especially important that your PR and marketing team are well-versed in knowing how to inform your customers without causing alarm and panic.
This is known as an incident response plan, and it allows you to get to grips with a breach as soon as it’s occurred. If you and your team know exactly what actions to take in the event of a breach, you can go some way to minimizing its impact.
After all, while prevention is key, and while none of us want to be the victims of an attack, the reality is that online attacks happen. And then it’s a matter of what you do next.
Educate Your Team
Research shows that nearly one in two workers are responsible for putting their business at risk of a ransomware attack by opening suspicious emails. Negligence in the workplace when it comes to cybersecurity is rife, with 53% of staff admitting they’ve made their company’s systems more vulnerable.
It’s really important that you educate your team on cybersecurity, and especially of the need to update malware software when prompted. Train them in basic, essential security practices, such as strong password generation and how to detect a suspicious email.
Maintain Regular Backups
Frequently backing up your documents and data makes a lot of sense. There are a few good reasons to do this. One is that you’ll be able to retrieve data that would otherwise have been lost due to a data failure. Another is so that you’ll have more leverage if you’re the victim of a ransomware attack.
Attackers who hold businesses to ransom by stealing and withholding their data are in a much weaker position if the said business has maintained regular backups and thus has a copy of the data.
For best results, implement a process whereby backups are carried out on a consistent basis, ideally each day. If possible, retain multiple copies too, as this will give you even more flexibility.
Safeguard Your Online Communication
Online communication includes emails, but for many modern-day organizations, it also includes instant messenger apps. While instant messenger apps allow your team to ping messages back and forth as they plan and work on projects, they are also extremely vulnerable unless you utilize end-to-end encryption.
For example, your messages — and thus your data and key information — can be intercepted by hackers who have a bit of know-how.
End-to-end encryption blockades anyone without permission from accessing your messages, translating plain text into unreadable code ciphertext. And while you can download software made by other companies, it’s a smart idea to build an encrypted messaging app yourself so that you have full control over everything. This is essential for security and data protection.
Cybersecurity threats are constant, and they’re becoming more and more advanced each year. It’s important that you take the necessary steps now to put in place a cybersecurity strategy that will safeguard your new online business.
However, don’t stop there. Because cybercriminals are always looking for new weaknesses, you need to keep up to date with all the latest changes each year so that your defenses remain strong.
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