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Did you know that more than 28 percent of data breaches in 2020 impacted small businesses? As if small-business owners didn’t have enough to worry about throughout the last year, malicious actors were up to their same old tricks, leaving some companies without any real recourse for retaliation or recovery.  

Data breaches aren’t a joke for small businesses. Sixty percent of smaller companies that experience a cybersecurity incident close their doors as soon as six months after the attack. This means that a strong cybersecurity posture isn’t just an option: It’s required for survival. 

Meade’s PC Repair Shop offers several ways you can ensure your systems are ready for an attack: 

1. Invest in network security tools 

When it comes to cybersecurity, the question of becoming the target of an attack isn’t a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. Virtual private network (VPN) tools are effective at keeping traffic isolated to just your network. VPNs create a remote, encrypted tunnel between you and the web service you’re accessing — essentially ensuring that the bits and bytes that comprise your traffic aren’t able to be seen by any outside forces.  

In addition to providing general improvements in basic cybersecurity, there are several specific instances in which you would want a VPN. For instance, if you are on a public Wi-Fi network (say, at Starbucks), your activity wouldn’t be visible to anyone else on the same network who might be using hacking tools to snoop on those around them. 

2. Consider hiring an ethical hacker 

Cybersecurity professionals know exactly what to look for when it comes to malicious actors in your system, and they can help you protect your business from threats to the network. And, as backward as it may seem, sometimes the most knowledgeable professionals are the ones who can definitely, absolutely break into your network. 

In other words, sometimes, you have to hire a jewel thief to be your security guard. 

Ethical hackers are trained professionals who have experience with testing network security (i.e., penetration testing). They can help you find the pain points in your system and help you patch the obvious holes. You can hire a hacker by searching online job platforms that allow you to view reviews of their previous performances and weigh the cost of their services. 

3. Spend time on training 

If you have employees as a small-business owner, you should consider training them in the finer points of cybersecurity. It has long been a maxim of cybersecurity professionals that humans are the “weakest link” in the security chain — hackers use social engineering techniques to prey on the compassion, curiosity, and even greed of others, which is why phishing campaigns like the infamous “Nigerian prince” scam have been so popular over the years. 

Your employees are your first line of defense when it comes to phishing scams and ransomware. You can invest in the most expensive firewalls in the world — but if Bill clicks on that suspicious link in the email he got this morning and compromises your network, that’s the ball game. Educating them about what “phishy” emails look like and telling them what to do if they think they’ve been compromised can be critical parts of the security process. 

Stay vigilant! 

Just remember: The best defense against cybercriminals is knowledge. Knowing how to pinpoint a website virus or malicious attacks, being aware of the best network detection tools, and learning what your own weaknesses are are all important in the fight to protect our data. 

Investing in tools, technology, and information is the first step. The next step is partnering with a company that knows the ins and outs of your security systems and can help you improve your chances of preventing a cyberattack.  

Article by Carla L

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