There is never a good time for cyberattacks to occur. However, during the holiday season, any type of cyberattack on your business process could reap disastrous results.
This is due to the fact that during the holiday season the users are more active than ever on the Internet, whether it is online retail, booking tickets etc. The more the number of active users, the more are the opportunities to exploit the businesses as a substantial amount of revenue can be lost during this time.
As per CSO Online, Ponemon Institute pegs the average cost of a single attack at $5 million, with $1.25 million—a quarter of the total—attributable to system downtime, and another $1.5 million (30 percent) to IT and end user productivity loss.
The costs mentioned above occur due to the incapability of the employees to carry out their work during the attack. These costs exclude the revenue that the attacker might ask as a ransom for ceasing the attack.
There are numerous ways in which the attackers can carry out a cyberattack on your business online. These may also differ on the basis of the motive of the attack. For instance, an attacker may intend to extort money from the business owner. Whereas, other might be planned by the competitor to bring a business down. Some attackers do it just because they can.
Numerous ways of cyberattacks creep up now and then. However, the following types of attacks are the most impactful among them and are a menace to the businesses in the present scenario.
A) Ransomware Attacks – This type of attack involves the hijacking of PCs or servers with the help of a malware. The attacker gains full access to your system and asks for a ransom to free your system. Failing to comply leads to the attacker leaking critical information publicly.
B) DDoS Attacks – Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are perpetrated by bombarding a server or group of servers with vast amounts of data such as SYN requests. The server ultimately crashes if the attack is not mitigated in time.
C) Phishing Attacks – In the case of phishing attacks, an email is sent to you with a message luring you into opening the attachment containing the malware. The message may be like “You have won an Audi car.” The hackers could also ask you to open a URL or provide your credit card or bank details.
D) SQL Injection Attack – The attackers inject SQL commands into the SQL database of a website to retrieve confidential information. The website may contain information regarding the customer’s credit card, passwords, and personal information.
Whether it is eCommerce, accounting, construction, healthcare or others, there are certain precautions that every industry must follow during the holiday season to mitigate the effects of cyber attacks or prevent them altogether.
1. Use Strong Passwords and Multi-factor Authentication
In the digital world, passwords are equivalent to the locks you put on safes to protect your assets. In today’s world, where you have to set a password for every account you create online including social media, online banking, and cloud servers, there can be a lethargy in creating strong passwords.
However, it is strongly advised to create a strong password for every account on the Internet. A weak password can be hacked very easily, and all your personal or business-related data can be extracted. Users generally do not pay heed while setting up a password and follow a common pattern such as –
Try not to use such predictable patterns or passwords with personal details such as date of birth, spouse’s name, or your name.
A strong password policy should be implemented in the offices, and every employee should be made aware of the importance of a strong password.
Under the strong password policy, the password should be a combination of alphabets, numbers, and special characters. It is also advised to keep the password at least 8 characters long.
You should also implement multi-factor authentication ensuring that the data is not compromised even if your password gets hacked.
2. Choose a Secure Cloud Provider
If you find it unfeasible to implement the security procedures necessary to secure your business from cyberattacks, you can always opt for a cloud hosting provider.
The competent cloud providers deploy advanced security practices and safeguards to protect your data. These safeguards may be physical, administrative, or technical in nature, implementing methods like Intrusion Prevention and Detection Systems (IPS & IDS), data encryption, access controls, and multi-factor authentication.
For these security measures to be implemented in the local setup, you would need a hefty amount of revenue with a lot of efforts.
Why go through all that trouble when you can get the cloud provider doing your job?
3. Backup Your Data
Whether you are hosting your process on the cloud or deploying a local setup, it is essential to backup your critical data. In the case of a Ransomware attack, when the hackers compromise your system, it is vital that you have access to your data on redundant data storage devices.
The hackers that take control over your system threaten you with corrupting or deleting the data. However, if you have a copy of the data, you need not to comply with their demands.
Try to keep the copy of your data on multiple locations to be able to retrieve the data even if the entire network of one location is compromised. You should also implement backup policies in your office so that your data gets backed up regularly, not specifically during the holiday season.
4. Take Care of Your Local Setup
Your local setup consists of PCs, network devices, local servers, and other equipment. It is required of you to take good care of your local systems. The desktops should be installed with the latest anti-virus and anti-malware software. The operating system of your desktop should be updated regularly with security patches to counter any cyberattacks.
The local firewall, whether hardware or software, monitors the traffic and prevents any malicious traffic to harm your network. It should also be updated regularly to ensure data protection.
5. Spread Awareness
Implementing all the security methods are of no use if your employees themselves are not aware of the do’s and don’ts for preventing the cyberattacks. It is recommended to conduct sessions on security practices before the holiday season.
The employees should be instructed to set a strong password for all their accounts. They should be educated about the various types of cyberattacks and the ways to prevent them. For instance, the employees should be instructed to refrain from opening any emails from unknown addresses or open any untrusted URLs, or they can be the victim of a phishing attack.
If the employees are working remotely, they should not connect to any unknown Wi-fi network as these can be hacked easily. Instead, a secure VPN should be used to connect to your office.
Be Safe This Holiday Season
The holiday season is a time for celebration and evaluating your year’s hard work. It should not be spent trying to fend against the cyberattacks. Hence, you must be prepared in advance and implement the best security practices and methods.
Be sure to backup your data on other storage devices to prevent from being a victim of a ransomware attack. Inform your employees of the best security practices and update your firewalls as well as operating system with security patches. Make a habit of creating a strong password for all your accounts. You can also opt for a cloud provider for hosting your business process in a secure environment.
Along with all the suggested tips, you can also make changes specific to your business process.
Do you have some questions about the best security practices? Do write to us in the comments section.