Despite the prominence of cyber-attacks nationally, from politics-to-healthcare, most companies are doing little to protect themselves from hackers. According to Symantec, there were more than 429 million identities exposed in 2015 alone. Companies are at a higher risk of breaches now more than ever – 2016 breaches increased 40 percent from the last year.
If a business is hacked the consequences can be devastating. The National Cyber Security Alliance says that 60 percent of small businesses hit by a cyber attack go out of business in six months. Now more than ever before, it’s crucial that employers keep cybersecurity top of mind.
Here are five cybersecurity strategies businesses need to implement for 2017. These tips can also be applied to your personal information as well.
Refresh Your Data
Keeping data clean is a big commitment that requires regular data entry, a consistent style format, and constant monitoring. Having up-to-date, relevant, and properly formatted data means you are less vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Since it’s a time-intensive project, it can be easy to let your diligence slide. Take some time to make sure your 2016 data is up to date and re-brief your data managers on expectations going forward in 2017.
Like super-bacteria, a cyber attack may respond to an initial course of treatment, but eventually it will develop a resistance and the same lines of defense that worked in previous years might be inadequate to protect from coming threats.
Ultimately, it’s not cybersecurity technology itself that provides the necessary protection, but the people who develop it. To keep your cybersecurity defense modern, your employees need to keep up with the hackers they’re fighting.
Protect Against Ransomware Attacks
The FBI reports that, on average, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily since Jan. 1, 2016 — a 300 percent increase from 2015. Unless employers start taking the necessary preventative measures, the trend will only continue throughout 2017 and beyond.
Conduct regular secure data backups, implement awareness and training programs for employees and configure strong spam filters like Sender Policy Frameworks (SPF), Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), and Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM). If your company has already taken these steps to prepare for a ransomware attack, take the extra precautionary step of performing a penetration and vulnerability assessment.
Upskill Your Employees
Staying current with cybersecurity and IT is a continuous requirement, which makes learning an ongoing process. It’s important to provide opportunities to develop a foundational skill set and access to tools that can help turn employees into innovators.
To do this, offer internal professional development and provide encouragement to pursue competency-based courses and coding boot camps off-site via learning centers.
Utilize the Cloud
For small and medium-sized companies, cloud-based cybersecurity offers a more affordable alternative to traditional software. Cloud-based software offers the luxury of operational efficiency, scalability and virtually unlimited computational power, all at a much more affordable price point.
Off-site data storage carries its own cybersecurity risks, but cloud-based services have bolstered their security over the past few years to make them safer and more reliable. If cybersecurity is a brand new endeavor for your company or you are looking for a fresh start, look to the Cloud first.