Protect Your Business from Cyber Risks: A Comprehensive Guide for Small to Medium Enterprises

Protect Your Business from Cyber Risks: A Comprehensive Guide for Small to Medium Enterprises

October 30, 2023

In today's increasingly digital world, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are more vulnerable than ever to cyber threats. With the average cost of a cyber claim for SMEs at $345,000 and the average cost of a ransomware event at $485,000, it is essential to take proactive steps to protect your business and ensure you're covered by your insurance policy. Additionally, the last year has seen a 40% increase in ransomware attacks and a 56% increase in fund transfer fraud incidents targeting small businesses. This makes it imperative to strengthen your cybersecurity defenses and understand how to mitigate potential risks.

Before a Cyber Incident

Regularly Backup Your Data:
Perform regular backups of your data and systems to an offline or cloud-based storage solution. Ensure the backups are automatic and incremental, and regularly test the restoration process to ensure they are functional. In case of a ransomware attack, you can restore your data without paying the ransom.

A copy of your data on your network is NOT a backup. These should be offsite to reduce the chance of compromise.

Keep Software and Operating Systems Updated:
Ransomware often exploits vulnerabilities in outdated software and operating systems. Keep your software, including your operating system, web browsers, and all applications, up to date. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to ensure you have the latest security patches.

Install and Update Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software:
Use reputable antivirus and anti-malware software and keep them up to date. These tools can help detect and prevent ransomware infections. Make sure to schedule regular scans and enable real-time protection.

Practice Safe Computing Habits:
Be cautious when opening email attachments or clicking on links, especially if they come from unknown or suspicious sources. Phishing emails are a common delivery method for ransomware. Verify the sender's legitimacy and hover over links to see their actual destination before clicking.

Avoid downloading software or files from untrustworthy websites. Stick to official sources when downloading software.

Implement strong and unique passwords for all your accounts and consider using a password manager to help you manage and create strong passwords.

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible to add an extra layer of security to your accounts.

Create a Cyber Incident Response Plan:
Before a cyber incident occurs, create, test, and perfect response procedures, prioritizing areas that could prevent you from conducting business if compromised or attacked.

Set up a training plan for employees and conduct annual training and testing. Convey shared responsibility for the protection of the network.

Implement software/hardware such as intrusion detection and prevention and secure logins for anyone accessing your system.

Invest in an excellent off-site backup system.

During a Cyber Incident

Assess and Confirm the Cyber Incident:
In the event of a suspected cyber incident, assess the situation to confirm it is indeed a cyberattack. Notify all company personnel who can assist with identifying the source of compromise.

Preserve Evidence and Notify Authorities:
Save all logs and records, and minimize damage with firewall rules to block traffic. Contact your off-site backup company.

Provide information to local and/or federal authorities, including network topology, recent network additions, personnel working on affected systems, and any other relevant data/communication.

After a Cyber Incident

Continuously Monitor for Additional Activity:
Even after an incident, remain vigilant and monitor your systems for any signs of ongoing or new malicious activity.

Review and Improve Your Cybersecurity Practices:
After a cyber incident, it is crucial to review and reassess your response procedures, network security, employee training, and other areas of weakness. Address any identified weaknesses promptly to prevent future incidents.

By following these proactive steps, you can significantly reduce your business's vulnerability to cyber threats and ensure your insurance coverage remains effective. Small and medium enterprises are prime targets for cyberattacks, but with the right precautions and a robust response plan, you can protect your business and its reputation in an increasingly digital world. Don't wait until it is too late; take action now to safeguard your business from cyber risks.