According to research, cyberattacks cost US businesses about 6.9 billion in 2021 alone, and even more alarming is the fact that only about 50% of businesses are financially prepared for a cyber attack. This leaves a huge gap in terms of preparedness, and unfortunately, many businesses only realize the importance of cyber security when it’s too late.
The thing is, an ounce of prevention is worth a whole load of cure when it comes to cybersecurity. So, what can you do to prepare for a cyber attack? Here is everything you need to know about how to prepare:
Assess Your Exposure: Not Everyone Faces the Same Risks
You can’t properly prepare for a cyber attack without first knowing where your vulnerabilities lie. Depending on the type of business you have and the industry you work in, you’ll be more vulnerable to some types of attacks than others.
For example, if you store sensitive customer data, like credit card numbers or personal health information, you’re a prime target for hackers who want to sell that information on the black market. But even if you don’t store sensitive data, you can still be a target. Hackers may attack your business simply to disrupt your operations or to steal your intellectual property.
Train Your Employees: They’re Your First Line of Defense
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for a cyber attack is to train your employees in cybersecurity best practices. They need to know how to spot red flags, like phishing emails and suspicious links, and they need to know what to do if they think they’ve been targeted.
You should also have a plan in place for what to do in the event of a cyber attack. This plan should include steps for how to contain the damage, like isolating affected computers from the rest of your network and how to report the incident to the proper authorities.
Invest in Cybersecurity: It’s Worth the Money
You can’t afford to skimp on cybersecurity. Investing in the latest security technology and software is important in preparing for a cyber attack. But don’t stop there – you also need to ensure your systems are always updated with the latest security patches. And you should consider hiring a team of cybersecurity experts to help you monitor your systems and respond to threats.
Use Proper Encryption: It Could Save Your Business
If you’re storing sensitive data, proper encryption is a must. Even if you’re not required by law to encrypt your data, it’s still a good idea. That’s because encrypted data is much harder for hackers to access and use.
Encryption is the process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format. This is done using a key, which is like a password that allows you to decode the information. There are two types of encryption:
Symmetric: Both sender and receiver use the same key to encode and decode messages.
Asymmetric: Each person has their own key, which they use to encode messages. The other person has a different key, which they use to decode the message.
You should always use encryption when sending or receiving sensitive information, such as credit card details or passwords. This way, even if the data is intercepted, the cybercriminal will not be able to read it.
Use Two-Factor Authentication and VPNs: Extra Layers of Protection
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an extra layer of security that requires you to enter a code, in addition to your username and password, when logging into an account.
The code is usually sent to your phone via text message or generated by an app. This makes it much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to your accounts, even if they have your username and password, as they would also need your phone.
VPNs or Virtual Private Networks also play an integral role in data breach protection because they encrypt all the data sent between your device and the internet, making it much harder for anyone to intercept and read it. This is especially important when using public Wi-Fi, as it’s very easy for cybercriminals to set up fake hotspots and intercept the data sent by unsuspecting users.
Implement Strong Access Controls: Limit Who Has Access
Restricting access to systems and data is one of the most effective ways to prevent cyber attacks. By implementing strong access controls, you can make it much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to your systems. There are two types of access control methods:
Discretionary Access Control (DAC)
DAC is a security mechanism that determines who can access which resources and how they can use them. When using DAC, the system administrator assigns permissions to users, groups, or devices.
Mandatory Access Control (MAC)
MAC is a security model that uses labels to control access to resources. With MAC, the operating system ensures that users only have access to the resources they’re allowed to access, based on their security level.
Know Your Data: Where is it and Who Has Access to It?
To protect your data, you first need to know what type of data you have and where it resides. This seems like a no-brainer, but many organizations don’t clearly understand what data they have and where it’s stored.
Conduct an inventory of all the systems in your organization and map out where sensitive data is stored. Once you know what data you have, you can start to put in place the appropriate security measures to protect it.
Implement Strong Security Measures: Keep Your Systems Up-to-Date
Cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities, so it’s important that you close any gaps in your system’s defenses. There are a few technical security measures you can put in place to make it more difficult for cybercriminals to penetrate your systems. Here are some key things to do:
Use a firewall: This will help block unauthorized access to your network.
Install antivirus software: This will detect and remove any malicious software that manages to get through your firewall.
Keep your software up to date: Regular updates will patch any vulnerabilities in your software that cybercriminals could exploit.
Use strong passwords: Long, complex passwords are harder to crack than short, simple ones. Use a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols to make them as strong as possible.
Encrypt your data: This will make it much more difficult for cyber criminals to read your data if they manage to get their hands on it.
How to Prepare for a Cyber Attack: A Comprehensive Guide
By taking these steps, you can significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to a cyber attack. However, it’s important to remember that no system is 100% secure, and there’s always a risk that something could go wrong. That’s why it’s also important to have a plan in place for how to deal with a breach if one does occur.