Preparing for Cyber Attacks: Vulnerabilities and Prevention

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Hosted data solutions offer companies reliable, anytime, anywhere access to data. Whether you use colocation services or house everything on in-house servers, data security is not a concern to sweep under the rug. Over the past few years, businesses of all types have reported a rise in cyber attacks and security threats, which means you need to consider your vulnerabilities, understand how to protect your business, and create a recovery plan, regardless of how you use or store your data.

What Makes You Vulnerable to a Cyber Attack?

Even government networks and the NASDAQ servers are at some risk of cyber attack, which might make small business owners skeptical that they’ll be able to stand up to the same criminals. One inherent protection that most small — and even large — businesses have is that cyber criminals aren’t targeting them as much as they do financial, government, or other institutions. Still, almost any business does have information hackers can capitalize on, and some cyber attacks are only about wreaking random havoc.

Some things that make your business especially vulnerable to attacks include:

  • Unsecured networks, poorly designed and protected site architecture, or holes in network connections with vendors or among multiple systems.
  • Improper, incomplete, or inadequate staff training regarding network and data security.
  • Failure to create comprehensive security policies and follow through with procedures on a daily basis.
  • Not vetting technology vendors and requiring business partners to maintain compliance-level data security measures.

How Does a Cyber Attack Affect Your Business?

Cyber attacks can be a minor nuisance or a major threat to your business. The impact of attacks in the past has ranged from minor delays in productivity to bankruptcy of a business. When an attack causes a breach of sensitive information, the business brand is at risk, and businesses may also lose millions in compliance fines, lawsuits, and other post-attack expenses.

Even when sensitive data isn’t compromised, attacks can halt sales or service as websites and workflow are compromised. Even the news of an attack can put consumers on edge, shifting them away from your business for quite some time.

Preparing Your Business

Preparing for a cyber attack is much like preparing for a natural disaster. Businesses should have materials and protocols prepared for as many instances as can be imagined. It’s especially important to know that you’ll be able to communicate with principals in the business if networks are taken down.

Mary Galligan, a former agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, says that preparation should begin now, not after an attack occurs. A good place to start is developing redundancies for data storage and access. If a network or access point is compromised, businesses must be able to move quickly to shut down or mitigate the breach without cutting themselves off from data for long periods of time.

Cyber attack preparation plans should take all aspects of the business into account, which means every department should work with leadership to develop appropriate plans.

  • Technical departments should work to maximize security measures in-house and with vendors while creating fail-safes should those security measures ever fail.
  • Customer service departments should create plans and train staff to handle consumer questions and needs during and just after an attack.
  • Public relations and marketing departments should be ready with instantaneous messaging regarding the attack and what the company is doing to correct the issue.

While some information can’t be shared, transparency is usually the best way to create customer confidence in times of trouble.

No company can 100 percent guarantee cyber attacks won’t happen. Those companies that make data security a high priority and work with others to develop preparedness plans are less likely to experience serious issues.

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