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Top Five Cybersecurity Tips for Businesses

Top Five Cybersecurity Tips for Businesses

With ransomware attacks disrupting businesses nationwide, many South Dakota businesses are uncertain if their security protocols can protect them. Even worse, many SMBs don’t think they are targets. If you’re not sure if you have the right cybersecurity protections in place, here are five tactics your business should invest in to protect against a cyberattack.

  • 1. Accept That You are a Target

With school districts, hospitals, manufacturers and corporations in the news due to ransomware attacks, it is easy for an SMB who isn't in these industries to be lulled into a feeling of false security. However, that is precisely what it is, false. Cybercriminals understand that many small and medium-sized businesses like yours are often connected to larger, enterprise-sized organizations. It is your connection to these desired organizations that make you a target. 

Unfortunately, smaller businesses in Rapid City have some misconceptions about cybersecurity, which expose them to potential cyberattacks. Cybercriminals know that since many SMBs don't think they will ever be a cyberattack target, they often don't develop the level of cybersecurity protocols needed to prevent one. Your business must accept that you can be a target and invest in the resources required to put policies in place that will protect your business.  

  • 2. Use Multi-factor Authentication

The key to any successful cybersecurity plan is to have different protection levels, making it difficult for a bad actor to gain access to your system. Multi-factor authentication allows your business the opportunity for a ‘second chance’ in case of a stolen password. Multi-factor authentication or at least 2FA (two-factor authentication) is a useful measure. For an intrusion to be successful, the cybercriminal will also have to have access to the device linked to the password to access the system.  

Multi-factor authentication can be understood as a combination of something you know, something you have, and something you are. For example:

  • Something you know, such as a password or pin
  • Something you have, such as a physical “key.”
  • Something you are, a biometric signature such as your fingerprint.

As you can imagine, it would be challenging for a cybercriminal to provide something you have or something you are, even if they know your password, which is why multi-factor authentication is one of the most effective tools in your cybersecurity toolbox. Stop putting it off. Now is the time to start using 2FA every day, today.

  • 3. Develop an Access Strategy

As authorities learn more about recent cyberattacks, a pattern has started to emerge. The cybercriminals aren't forcing their way into systems using brute force techniques. Instead, these bad actors use social engineering techniques such as phishing to gain access to business systems by compromising the team's passwords. 

We have discussed phishing previously, including how to spot a phishing attempt, and in a perfect world, no one would get fooled by such an attempt. Unfortunately, the reality is many people will be deceived, including your team members. Even if you enact best practices such as 2FA, a team member will click on a link and expose your network to attack sooner or later. Your best option is to find a way to prevent the bad actor from progressing past their initial point of contact.

The solution to this concern is to restrict the number of people who have access to critical information. Doing so will limit the cybercriminal's ability to gain access to essential operations if they can compromise a team member's, vendor's, or customer’s credentials. When you incorporate identity and access management as part of your cybersecurity protocols, you will differentiate between different types of users, thereby controlling what they can access.

How access management works for cybersecurity
For example, say a team member's credentials are compromised via a phishing attack. As the cybercriminal makes their way through your system, they will reach an area they won't access because it is limited due to the stolen credentials' limitations. 

By segregating who and what information can be accessed, you will better pinpoint which credentials have been compromised and, most importantly, lock out the account as quickly as possible.

  • 4. Invest in a Password Management Tool

As most cyberattacks are due to compromised credentials, weak and easy-to-guess passwords are the bane of many an IT administrator and the hope of all cybercriminals. When it comes to passwords, relying on your team's memory is a recipe for disaster, as more often than not, they will use shortcuts to make the process as easy as possible for themselves. Some dangerous shortcuts can include:

  • Writing down passwords
  • Using the same passwords on multiple accounts
  • Not changing passwords regularly.

A password management tool, an app, or even a plugin for your browser, such as for Chrome, can make passwords more comfortable to manage and seamless for your team. Some benefits  a password management tool brings to your business include: 

  • Only having to remember one master password, as opposed to the several your team may need to access your accounts.
  • You're able to ensure the passwords generated are compliant with best practices.
  • New passwords are automatically generated to replace expired passwords.
  • As passwords are generated automatically, your team will not know what the passwords are and are less able to share them via a phishing attempt.

Developing an effective method to manage passwords will remove another opening cybercriminals can use to access your data. The more “locks” you have on your network, the better your chances are to deter a cyberattack.

    5. Back up Your Data

When it comes to ransomware, cybercriminals assume that you don't have a backup of your data as a smaller business because, unfortunately, many SMBs don't. In fact, most companies don't, regardless of their size. Your backup is your trump card against a cyberattack, as it allows your business the ability to recover your data if it is compromised. A backup of your data is one of the few countermeasures against a ransomware attack. This is why one of the first acts a cyberattack will do is look for any backups and either delete or encrypt them.

A backup eliminates the threat of losing your data that ransomware attackers use as leverage against your business. Once you have the confidence that your data is secure, the threat of ransomware, while inconvenient, is no longer the type of event which can critically damage your business. This is why you must invest the resources needed to ensure your business is following best practices to backing up your data. Simply put, you can't afford not to have a proper backup solution.

Cybersecurity Bonus Tip: Ask for Help

Now more than ever, cybersecurity should be a central area of concern for your business. Unfortunately, the days of using a free antivirus program are long behind us. Cyber criminality is big business, and no company is safe from being targeted. Unless you have the resources to hire an in-house cybersecurity expert or are one yourself, chances are your business is exposed. 

Make no mistake, as a South Dakota business; you’re a target. Cybercriminals are counting on you not taking cybersecurity seriously enough to invest the resources to protect your business. Unfortunately for them, you have KT Connections on your side. As South Dakota’s cybersecurity experts, our team will develop a personalized cybersecurity protection plan for your business. Call 888-891-4201 today to schedule an appointment and protect your business from a cyberattack.

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