In a 2018 study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, 67 percent of the small and medium-sized businesses surveyed reported a cybersecurity breach. Since then, cyberattacks on small businesses have only gone up. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the mass shift to remote work, hackers took advantage of the situation and launched an unprecedented number of phishing attacks.
Working with a remote staff increases the access points that hackers and malware can target to access a business network. In response, companies—and individuals—have to improve their security systems and prepare for various cyberattacks scenarios.
Don’t Wait Until Something Goes Wrong
When it comes to cybersecurity, prevention is better than a cure, so you should always prepare for the worst-case scenario. After conducting a malware scan, you should backup all the data on your computers and mobile devices at least once a month. Remember to encrypt the backup data and store the encryption key or password separate from all your data. Data you should backup includes:
- Word processing documents and electronic spreadsheets
- Databases such as customer relationship management, financial, human resource, and accounts receivable and payable files
- Operations, product, and manufacturing data such as CAD/CAE/CAM, process plans, production scheduling, inspection, maintenance, work orders, scheduling tools, and other inventory information
- System logs and other information technology (IT) information
Without proper backups, your company could have to spend weeks, months, or even years accounting for the data lost in a cyberattack or other compromising situation. For complete protection, you should store your business backups in multiple locations, such as one in the office, one in a safety deposit box across town, and one in the cloud as a redundancy measure.
You can use automatic backups to save yourself time and to avoid the human error of forgetting. Automatic backups store new data since the last backup, and you can schedule them hourly, daily, or weekly. The frequency depends on your industry and how much data you produce at a time.
Finally, you should regularly review your processes, procedures, and technology solutions. This exercise will help you find improvements that can help reduce your security risk. Regular staff training and drills are also essential. Your staff is at the center of all your IT activity, security, and data recovery efforts, so they must be knowledgeable and prepared for every contingency.
What Happens in a Cyberattack
Your network likely has countless devices utilizing the system either permanently or temporarily. These devices are called endpoints, and they all represent a potential entry point for malware. Malware can come from a website, email, corrupted file, or a simple link. Once the malware enters the network, it has the potential to infect other devices.
Malware can destroy, corrupt, steal, or encrypt your data. The attack on your IT system may be targeted or random, so the severity and extent of the damage can differ.
Depending on the attack’s purpose, hackers can steal financial information, proprietary information, trade secrets, customer records, business records, and so much more. In some cases, a hacker will set a ransom and lock all your company data until you pay up. According to a 2019 study by the Hiscox business insurance company, cyberattacks cost companies an average of $200,000 and put many out of business.
Aside from investing in cybersecurity software, like next-generation antivirus software or endpoint detection and response software, every company should have a backup plan for retrieving lost data. A comprehensive data recovery strategy requires a 3-2-1-1 recovery architecture, which includes the following:
- Three Areas of Separation– The company must use a separate backup team, process, and technology.
- Two Recovery Strategies– Recovery strategies should account for both data recovery and systems recovery.
- One Offline Copy– Always keep at least one off-network or immutable copy of your data.
- One Secured Environment– This environment should be for isolated data backups, analysis, clean copy identification, and recovery.
Having a reliable data recovery architecture is only the start—you will likely need a skilled team to carry out the plan. You can utilize data recovery software programs and services to assist your company if you don’t have the expertise in-house.
Data is an asset, and like any asset, can be covered by insurance. Cyber insurance can help you recover from an information security incident by covering the cost of:
- Cybersecurity expertise that can help to identify the scope and magnitude of an attack
- Resources to investigate the incident and provide a report to the appropriate authorities
- Revenue lost during downtime
- Legal fees, fines, and penalties incurred
Your Cybersecurity Responsibility
Losing your data in any form can be disruptive to your business and costly to your brand. It’s crucial that all businesses, regardless of size or worth, take the necessary steps to prevent attacks. As a business owner or manager, you are responsible for ensuring your backups are updated, encrypted, and stored separately from your IT system.