Words of wisdom from our business insurance experts.
The Top 10 Things Businesses Can Do to Prevent Cyber Attacks
In the 2020s, saying cyber attacks are a severe threat is an understatement. According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, 47 percent of all US adults have had their personal information exposed by cybercriminals. And around the world, the average person loses 21 hours and $358 as a result of cybercrime each year.
Though it isn’t hard to see why cyber attacks are a danger to just about any business these days, developing a strategy to stop these incidents is more challenging. Still, this isn’t something you’ll need to do alone. Here are the top 10 steps your company can take to lower its risk of falling victim to cyber attacks.
What are cyber attacks?
Before you can put together a cyber attack prevention strategy for your business, you need to be sure you fully understand what these attacks involve. On the most basic level, a cyber attack is an incident where your network or systems are exploited. These attacks often involve using malicious code to access your computers and data.
A few common types of cyber attacks companies face in 2023 include:
- Identity theft/fraud
- Theft of laptops, mobile devices, and other electronics
- Breach of access
- Infiltration of systems
- Web browser exploits (both private and public)
- Theft of and unauthorized access to intellectual property
- Malware, spam, spyware, phishing, etc.
- Distributed denial of service attacks
- Password sniffing
- Defacement of websites
- Abuse of instant messaging systems
How to defend your company from cyber attacks
There’s no denying that an unexpected cyber attack can wreak havoc on your business. But by taking a few common-sense precautions, you can mitigate the potential impact of cybercrime on your company. To defend your business from cyber attacks, you should:
1. Regularly update your software
Cybercriminals constantly look for weaknesses in the systems they’re trying to breach. In the average company’s network, outdated software is an all-too-common weak spot. While software developers typically patch out security vulnerabilities in their products, this won’t help you if you don’t make a point of keeping your software up to date.
Being diligent about software updates can admittedly be a hassle, especially since you and your employees are already hard at work in your actual jobs. Even so, you’ll want to make this a high priority (or find a patch management system that can do it for you). Remember: once a hacker has gotten into your system, it’s too late to prevent them from doing damage. With that in mind, keeping cybercriminals out is a must.
2. Make sure your staff members are trained
Any successful cyber attack prevention strategy is a team effort. Cybercriminals are experts at getting access to data by sending seemingly-real emails asking a company’s employees for personal details or file access. These emails can be surprisingly convincing and effective— even when they target savvy computer users.
Your best defense against this strategy is letting your workers know as much as possible about the threat they face. Hold a training session to tell your employees that they should:
- Think rationally before sending sensitive information
- Not engage with emails without first checking what address they came from
- Investigate links carefully before clicking on them
3. Get a firewall
As you’ve already read, there are all kinds of cybersecurity threats out there. Making matters worse, the list included in this article only covers the most common types of cybercrime—and new types arise on what seems to be a daily basis.
A firewall can help your business deal with all kinds of cybersecurity threats. If your company doesn’t already have a firewall in place, you should install this security measure ASAP. With a firewall, you can block any brute-force attacks targeting your systems and network.
4. Use endpoint protection
These days, it’s incredibly common for employees to access your company’s network through wireless devices like laptops and smartphones. However, these devices (or “endpoints”) can create a weak spot for the networks remotely bridged to them. With endpoint protection, you can ensure your network’s access paths are only open to people you trust.
5. Control access to your system
The idea of someone walking into your office, plugging in a USB drive containing malware, and walking out with full access to your network may sound like something out of a movie. But surprisingly enough, this exact scenario can play out in real life.
That means your physical security system is also part of your cybersecurity system. Even installing a few security cameras around your building can provide additional protection for your network. Biometric identification technology like fingerprint scanners and facial recognition systems can add another layer of security to your computers.
6. Take data backups seriously
Not every cyber attack involves a complete data wipe, but this is definitely a possibility when your network is breached. If you aren’t backing up your data, that could result in a worst-case scenario for your business. Eschewing data backups could cause anything from extended downtimes to significant financial losses.
In the past, data backups were associated with bulky external hard drives and CD-ROM stacks. These data backup methods still exist, but you won’t have to use them to get the peace of mind that comes with backing up your data. Instead, you can use one of the many cloud data backup services on the market to protect your data without any extra effort on your part.
7. Use different logins for different people
Letting employees share login credentials might seem relatively harmless. However, this can increase the chances that cybercriminals will get into one of your accounts.
Because of that, you should make sure everyone working for your company has their own login for every program they need to use. On top of the security benefits this provides, you’ll enjoy enhanced software usability.
8. Secure your Wi-Fi network
Wi-Fi networks are incredibly convenient, but they come with several security threats. Even so, that doesn’t mean your company must return to wired internet connections to prevent cyber attacks.
Instead, you’ll want to protect and hide your Wi-Fi networks. When you do so, you’ll ensure your networks are only visible to the people who need to use them. You’ll also eliminate the possibility of an infected device connecting to your network and causing problems.
9. Be smart about passwords
If you know anything about cybersecurity, you’ve almost certainly heard about the importance of password safety. Yes, using the same password everywhere might be easy to remember. But if a cybercriminal gets a hold of that password, they’ll be able to access all your accounts.
That’s why you and your workers need to maintain different passwords for every application you use. Furthermore, you should change these passwords regularly. While this may sound difficult, using a secure password manager app can make it quite a bit easier.
10. Don’t let just anyone install software
Most of the items on this list focus on preventing cyber attacks from outside sources. That said, it’s wise to be aware of the problems that can come with your employees installing software on your network.
Even if your workers aren’t acting maliciously, they could accidentally download malware and compromise your systems in the process. Carefully managing admin rights can give you control over who can install software and what programs they can install.
Protect your company from cyber attacks with insurance
When you follow the 10 steps listed above, you’ll be in an excellent position to defend your business from even the most dangerous cybersecurity threats. Still, you can never reduce your cyber attack risk to zero percent. The world of cybercrime is constantly changing and evolving, so you could get caught off-guard no matter how careful you are.
Cyber liability insurance is designed to help companies large and small deal with cybercrimes and data breaches. This form of insurance will cover your liability if a data breach exposes your customers’ personal information. Additionally, it can help your company cover related costs such as:
- Legal defense for attacks and cyber-related lawsuits
- Repairs to computers damaged in a cyber attack
- Data recovery efforts
- Letting affected customers know that a data breach has occurred
While you might assume your general liability insurance will cover you in situations like these, that probably isn’t the case. General liability policies focus on protecting you when your products or services cause physical injuries and property damage—not data loss. In fact, many general liability policies specifically exclude situations that cyber liability insurance is meant to cover. Because of that, if your company uses modern-day technology in any capacity, getting a cyber liability insurance policy is a good idea.
Cyber attacks are on the rise these days, so having a strategy to prevent your company from these attacks is more important than ever. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to mean spending a great deal of time and money on your part.
By following the steps listed above and investing in a quality cyber liability insurance policy, you won’t have to spend time worrying about cybersecurity threats to your business. Instead, you’ll be able to focus on what’s really important—keeping your customers satisfied and safe.
Get in touch with a cyber insurance specialist and learn more about coverage, pricing, and next steps to get a quote.