How to prevent cyberattacks before they happen

In 2017, cybercrime cost large and small businesses a total of at least $608 billion. Obviously, digital attacks will keep happening, and internet criminals will keep finding new methods to use and new weaknesses to exploit.

However, you shouldn’t resign yourself to a cyberattack. Instead, no matter your current operating budget, you can adopt effective preventive strategies. They’ll protect your data, your customers and your employees, and they should keep hackers from forcing your company out of business permanently.

1. Create strong passwords

If you have a simple password or use the same one across multiple sites, you’re more likely to get hacked.

It can help to develop a company standard whereby everyone selects an arbitrary series of capital and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. And impenetrable passwords are just as crucial for mobile devices.

It’s also good practice to change passwords at least once a month and insist that everyone never share or write down their passwords.

Be sure to set up cybersecurity training to distribute guidelines to your employees when they start and at regular intervals after that. This gives you the opportunity to answer questions and reiterate the importance of cybersecurity as an organization.

2. Be vigilant with every email

Of course, emails are great for communicating internally as well as with customers. The only problem is they can be dangerous. Phishing schemes are common.

How can you increase your company’s level of email safety?

Remind your workers to never open email attachments or click on email links from suspicious or unfamiliar sources. Also be aware that criminals can spoof email addresses, though, making it seem like malicious emails are coming from people they know. Moreover, it’s important that everyone turn off the automatic attachment download function.

3. There’s little safety without updates

Since hackers keep finding flaws in operating systems, software programs and mobile apps, you must keep updating yours to stay ahead of them. As soon as a manufacturer releases a patch, implement it.

Otherwise, you might find that cybercriminals have infiltrated your workstation and taken control of your operating system. They could then demand a sizable ransom or harvest your customers’ data.

How can you be sure that you possess the latest fixes? An easy way to stay up-to-date is to outsource the responsibility to expert IT consultants. Those authorities will see to it that every aspect of your network is protected by the latest antivirus programs and that your firewall is as secure as it can be.

4. Data backups can be lifesavers

Ideally, you’d never lose your data. But luck and victory go to the prepared. Therefore, always back up your data in case of a breach. In particular, the cloud is a secure and convenient option for backups.

With copies of your data readily available, your employees can keep accessing your information even after an attack. They can do their jobs and service your customers, preventing major drops in revenue and serious damage to your reputation.

Over the years, cybersecurity basics have generally stayed the same. For sure, tools have become more advanced, and best practices have changed slightly. But certain habits – using strong passwords, being extra careful with emails and so on – have remained powerful for a long time. They’ll continue serving businesses well for years to come as long as you stay committed to staying on top of your cybersecurity initiatives.