Each year Verizon, an American multinational telecommunications company, releases a data breach investigations report. It’s a lengthy document, but very much worth a read for small business owners. According to this year’s report, 28% of data breaches involved small business victims, and an average cost of such breach is $149,000.
It’s hard to start a business, but it’s even harder when cybercriminals are holding crucial business information for ransom. These are called ransomware attacks, and they have been on the rise for the last couple of years. One way or another, financial operations have moved online, and online shops are a godsend for some entrepreneurs looking for a way to start their own company but involve some cybersecurity to begin with.
So let’s take a look at what dangers lurk online for new or small business owners.
According to ZDNet, ransomware attacks have increased sevenfold in the last year. Moreover, some cyber criminals started launching ransomware attacks as a business model, RaaS – Ransomware as a Service. These groups know very well how to exploit Internet vulnerabilities and hide their traces online, and financial losses due to ransomware are counted in billions. So what is ransomware?
Ransomware is a cyber attack when attackers infect victims devices and encrypt the information on them. When it comes to small businesses, it almost always means a stop of operations, because crucial data like client information, banking details, order numbers, and alike, are held for ransom.
Usually, the attackers request to transfer a significant amount of money in cryptocurrency to receive the decryption key and unlock the data. Otherwise, the data is deleted after some time has passed. And there are no guarantees that the decryption key will be provided even if the ransom is paid, so it’s best not to fall victim to ransomware in the first place.
Once the attack hits, it’s really hard to decrypt the data by yourself, or even find the culprits. But for it to work, the attackers need to infect the target device in the first place. Usually, it’s done via Phishing attacks. Cybercriminals send forged letters telling unsuspecting victims to download some attachment, or they create fake mirror pages loaded with viruses. They might even try to infect the device via a USB key physically. Education on Phishing attacks and their prevention is a solid first step to protect your business from ransomware attacks.
Data theft and data leaks
Data theft is another crime that targets small and large businesses alike. Best case scenario, the data stolen does not contain any confidential information and is close to useless for the criminal. Worst case scenario, it may include corporate secrets, client data, banking details, money transfer history, among other things. Data theft has become so important that Europe launched the General Data Protection Regulation just a while back, that obligates the business to implement data protection.
There’s a list of 15 worst data breaches to get the feeling of how big these operations are, some resulting in hundreds of millions of user-data leaked. And millions in fines for the lack of security measurements. Of course, such numbers are only possible for big businesses, but that doesn’t mean small business owners aren’t targeted. In fact, they are targeted just as frequently, and for startups, it’s imperative not to leak any data that would give away their business secret, the thing that separates them from the rest of the competition.
Server security is of utmost importance to protect data-at-rest. First of all, confidential data, such as usernames, passwords, trade secrets, client data – all must be kept in an encrypted form. Passwords must protect access to this data. There’s nothing worse than a data leak from an open server in an unencrypted form, and this would definitely be a big blow to any business reputation.
One particular software is especially useful for data security. Virtual Private Networks must be used for remote access to confidential data because they encrypt the connection protecting it from any third party espionage. For safe password management, there are a variety of password managers to choose from, with a strong password generator to make things even more comfortable. A great example of this is NordPass, more on that can be found on https://nordpass.com/password-generator/. Last but not least, Antivirus is a must for any device to check the drive for malware, trojans, and viruses.
Of course, cybersecurity is way more complicated than these few steps. But these are the very basics for any small business to consider because starting one without taking even the most straightforward precautions is just too risky.