Protecting Business And Customer Data Against Cyberthreats
Going digital has been a boon for businesses. It has created efficiencies in production and distribution, improved flexibility for workers, and enriched customer relationships and the customer experience. But the dramatic increase in online connectivity has a dark side. It has vastly expanded the threat landscape for cybercrime, putting company and customer data at greater risk than ever before.
While cyberattacks on large corporations get most of the headlines, small and medium size businesses are also at risk. According to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 46% of all cyber breaches impact businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees. Small businesses are often seen as easier targets by attackers given their limited resources and less rigorous security posture. This perception is not too far from the truth. A recent study by cybersecurity company BullGuard found that 43% of small and medium size business owners have no cybersecurity defense plan in place at all.*
Ransomware attacks are the most common threat for small businesses, followed by the use of stolen credentials to gain access to confidential data. Phishing, a type of social attack usually via email in which the attacker tries to fool a target into doing something they should not do such as providing a username and password, is also prevalent. Regardless of the technique used, successful cyberattacks can be both expensive and damaging to businesses, particularly if they compromise client data.
There are several steps small businesses can take to limit the risk of an attack. These include:
- Using two-factor authentication and eliminating reuse or sharing of passwords
- Ensuring that software updates are installed promptly
- Working with vendors to be sure that they are following cybersecurity guidelines
- Keeping a consistent schedule of backups and maintaining offline backups
- Using antivirus software on all devices
- Training employees to avoid clicking on any unsolicited email or text message
- Checking that computers used for financial transactions are not used for other purposes, such as social media or email
- Employing email services that incorporate phishing and pretexting defenses
If your business is interested in setting up a cyber defense strategy or has been the victim of a cyberattack, there are resources available to help. The Cybercrime Support Network (fightcybercrime.org) is a non-profit organization created to meet the challenges facing small businesses affected by cybercrime. The organization also sponsors Scamspotter.org, a helpful database for identifying cyberattacks.
As your company embraces its digital future, it is critically important to protect your data and the data entrusted to you by your valued customers. As you design and implement your cyber security strategy, we at Washington Trust are here to help.
*New Study Reveals One in Three SMBs Use Free Consumer Cybersecurity and One in Five Use No Endpoint Security at All, CISION, February 19, 2020
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