Prime Advantage has invited industry experts to share insights on achieving manufacturing and business success. In this post, Maricel Tabalba of Credit.com, discusses how companies can beef up their cybersecurity without breaking the bank.
In today's increasingly wired world, digital systems are critical in facilitating customer engagement, managing finances, and running many aspects of day-to-day business operation. But for all that Internet-enabled technologies can do for a company, without the proper precaution, they can expose your organization to serious - and expensive - risks as well.
Cybercriminals regularly take advantage of small and mid-size companies that do not have appropriate cyber-security protections in place. After an attack, your business could be robbed of private client information, confidential data, and online assets -- in addition to the trust of long-time customers. But even with these costs in mind, many managers of mid-size manufacturing firms state that budgetary constraints deter businesses from implementing effective cyber security precautions.
It’s time to rethink all of this. Cyber-security does not have to come with a high price tag. By planning ahead, thinking creatively and focusing on certain preventative measures, you can avoid the risk of damaging losses without breaking your security budget.
Stay Informed About Current Cyber-Security Threats
You can defend your company's reputation and revenue simply staying informed about new hacking methods, viruses, and other threats. The global WannaCry attack that affected Amazon Web Services and Google RailWire is, for instance, one of the most recent and troubling instances of new ransomware.
By staying abreast of current developments in data security, machine learning, and Internet security more broadly, you can gain a clearer picture of the current threat landscape and where your business fits in. Subscribe to alerts from US-CERT - the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team - and other online publications, which can provide information to help you more easily determine if your data system's security infrastructure can handle the new challenges.
Train Employees in Advance
It is important for your company's managers to understand the costs of hackers, viruses, and malware, but your employees should also know how to respond to cybersecurity threats. All personnel who access the company's data systems should have a reasonable level of technology literacy. In many cases, untrained employees fall for ransomware attacks. You can hire a cybersecurity consultant to teach your employees about the common traits of ransomware and hacking attempts. This training is not an expensive expenditure and it may help you avoid thousands of dollars in damages.
It is a good practice to limit access to firewall and antivirus settings to a manager with administrator privileges. You should also train employees to not tamper any computer settings that deal with security. It may also be a good idea to develop a system of locking and monitoring rooms with servers and drives that contain sensitive information.
Establish Safe Payment Systems
For financial transactions, privacy and stability are among your top concerns for both your business and your clients and customers. Credit card fraud often occurs when people make transactions on unsecured systems. To start building a strong payment system, ensure that your clients' accounts are not breached by brute-force attacks. Require your clients to create a strong password with at least 16 characters. The password should be a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and spaces.
If you are using an e-commerce platform to manage your payments make sure they respect online payments security standards. For credit and debit payments, you should also require cardholders to input the CVV number. Online payment systems can be protected with two-factor authentication. This security method requires both members of a transaction to log into the system to confirm a payment. Each transaction requires new codes that are delivered via text message.
Regularly Update Security Systems
Cybersecurity systems are useless against new threats if they are not updated on a regular basis. As history continues to teach us, any fixed method of protection – be it passwords or even biometrics - will be compromised eventually, as hackers strive to discover ways around new authentication schemes.
You should perform regular system updates to ensure that virus definitions and firewall settings are all up to date, and you may also benefit from an annual inspection from a consultant or IT professional.
Establish a Protocol
If you are attacked by a virus or a hacker, you must respond to the threat as quickly as possible. To ensure a quick response, establish a protocol for all employees to follow in the event of a cyberattack. This protocol should include a to-do list and a timeline of necessary actions. It should also have the phone number of the person responsible for coordinating damage-control and recovery efforts.
Today it’s increasingly important to perceive cyber security as not a technological afterthought but rather a business-critical financial risk. It’s all about rethinking the approach - not necessarily revamping your entire budget, but finding ways to use the security resources you have more intelligently.