How To Prevent Cyber Attacks

A cyber attack can have a massive impact on your firm’s ability to do business and protect client data. An IT outage may mean a loss of customers if you can’t fix the problem quickly. Consider the most common types of cyber attacks, and how you can take steps to minimize the impact of an attack on your business.

The IT experts at point out that more than half of IT professionals have experienced an outage lasting eight hours or more, and the financial impact to a company can be substantial. If you experience a cyber attack, you need a plan in place to recover quickly.

Responding to a security breach

Your business has a variety of stakeholders, including customers, shareholders, creditors, and regulatory agencies. How you respond to a security breach has a big impact on your relationships with stakeholders. Consider this example:

You own a furniture manufacturing business. Your sales department has a customer order template that clients fill out and email to their salesperson. Each salesperson opens and reviews the order, then forwards the document to the shipping and accounting departments. A hacker sends a document that looks very similar to a customer order template. When a salesperson opens that document, the company system is hacked and causes a 12-hour outage.

  • Investigation: The first step is to determine how the breach occurred, and the system or procedure that failed. In this case, the IT system did not properly analyze the document and determine that the customer order was falsified. When the bogus customer order was opened, the salesperson’s computer should have shut down automatically. Neither IT control worked as planned.
  • Response: You meet with your IT staff to upgrade your IT systems to prevent a similar security breach. Everyone in the organization must change all of their passwords, and the requirements for password strength are increased.
  • Train staff: Your new IT system generates a red flag icon if the system detects a fake customer order document. You instruct your workforce to shut down their computers immediately and contact the IT department if they see a red flag icon.
  • Communication: You work with your public relations department to notify stakeholders of the security breach in a press release. In the press release, you explain what happened, the new IT systems to prevent a future breach, and whether or not any client information, such as credit card data, was compromised. You also communicate with all regulatory bodies, so that they can determine if any additional follow up is required.

Each of these steps is critical, in order to maintain relationships with customers and minimize any legal risks related to the security breach.

Types of cyber attacks

Companies face a variety of security threats, and each can disrupt your business and create legal risks. Here are some common types of cyber attacks:

  • Malware: Is broadly defined as code that is designed to steal company data or create some form of computer damage. Malware is introduced into a computer when an email is opened or through a download. Trojans, viruses, and worms are all examples of malware. Every business must train its workforce to not click on suspicious links or downloads from unknown senders.
  • Phishing: This cyber attack occurs when a hacker presents himself or herself as a trusted third party, and the hacker requests that an email recipient enter personal information. These cyber attacks can be successful, if the hacker’s email appears to be from a trusted source, such as a bank or credit card company. To prevent these attacks, instruct your employees to independently verify if a legitimate third party is contacting them by email.
  • Denial-of-service (DOS) attacks: This type of attack is commonly directed at multiple computers at the same time. In a DOS attack, an attacker sends a huge volume of data through a network, in an attempt to overload the system. To counter this threat, companies should closely monitor the flow of data and watch for spikes in traffic, and perform regular software updates.

As your business grows, you’ll need to add both IT staff and software enhancements. Make the investment in IT expertise to protect your data and get back on your feet if an IT disaster strikes.