How Small Businesses Can Avoid Cyberattacks in 2021

Across 2020 – and, most likely, throughout 2021 – the priority of small business owners has been weathering the storm brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. That’s understandable, given the challenges and unique threats from Covid-19. However, the danger posed by cybercriminals has not gone away; in fact, the evidence points to the contrary. The FBI reported huge increases in cybercrime against businesses and individuals in 2020 – a 400% increase in some cases – as hackers looked to exploit the upheaval caused by the pandemic.

Risk Factors

That upheaval meant that cybercriminals could exploit new factors like the huge increase in employees working from home. Deloitte reports that up to 48% of Americans worked from home at the height of the pandemic, and most experts agree that WFH (work from home) culture will continue even after the vaccine roll-out. The following threats were notable in 2020:

The above list is far from exhaustive, and it does not cover that cybercriminals have preyed upon the fact that this is an emotional time for many Americans. By ‘emotional’, we mean employers are worried about their businesses’ future, employees are concerned about their jobs, and everyone is anxious about their health. Cybercriminals are aware of these anxieties, and they tailor their approach in the knowledge that you and your employees are more likely to make mistakes when confused or worried.

Consequences of Cyberattacks

On average, a cyberattack will cost a company around $200,000 – enough to put many firms out of business. Cybercriminals may be looking for corporate information, financial and personal data, or simply – as often happens with ransomware – to lock you out of your systems and force you to pay for it.

In addition, a cyberattack can have the following dire consequences for your business:

  • Reputational damage
  • Loss of sales and clients
  • Legal claims and fines
  • Disruption of trade
  • Higher insurance costs
  • Repair costs to affected systems and networks

How to Protect Your Business from Cyberattacks

When aiming to protect a small business from cyberattacks, there are two main areas to focus on: education and software. The former refers to being aware of the risks, and then educating employees on how to prevent them; software refers to securing your company’s systems with the most robust and up to date cybersecurity measures.

Education and Prevention

Awareness of the risks is often cited as the first step to effective cybersecurity for businesses. Training your employees (and management) to spot threats and use best security practices when carrying out tasks will help prevent cyberattacks. If you don’t think that’s necessary, then consider that a 2020 survey showed that 37% of American employees did not know  what a ransomware attack was.

Here’s an overview of some common but important steps you can take:

  • Educate employees about different types of cyberattack threats.
  • Emphasize the threat of social engineering like phishing and smishing (phishing attacks over SMS).
  • Train employees on how to recognize and red flag a cyberattack.
  • Have regular cybersecurity meetings and test employee’s knowledge.
  • Put policies in place for remote working, including mobile phones and public Wi-Fi.
  • Have a company password policy on strong passwords, and make sure they are regularly updated.

Software

Every modern business needs robust, dependable, and up-to-date cybersecurity software. Even if the preventative measures listed above are followed, it may not be enough to protect your business from a sophisticated cyberattack. Installing the latest software will dramatically reduce the risk of cyberattack, blocking attempts to seize control of your device and removing threats before they reach your inbox.

ZoneAlarm has several products that can help safeguard your business against cyberattacks. Three options are discussed below:

ZoneAlarm Extreme Security

The all-inclusive cybersecurity package for a small business. The award-winning Extreme Security offers:

  • Robust real-time anti-virus protection
  • Powerful Firewall as a 1st line of defense anti-ransomware
  • Anti-spyware
  • Anti-phishing
  • Threat elimination
  • Identity protection
  • Mobile security for iOS and Android devices

ZoneAlarm Mobile Security App

As technology trends change, it is inevitable that you and your employees will be carrying out more business tasks on mobile devices. The Mobile Security App is designed to offer peace of mind and multiple layers of protection. Check Point mobile technology won Frost & Sullivan’s Frost Radar Best Practices Award for Growth, Innovation & Leadership in the European Mobile Threat Defense Market. The app allows you to:

  • Connect to Wi-Fi worry-free
  • Protect your business data and personal details
  • Shield your mobile device from hostile takeovers
  • Make use of Zero-Day Phishing Protection
  • Block malicious apps
  • Download and browse safely

ZoneAlarm Anti-Ransomware

Ransomware has been cited as the biggest security threat to small and medium-sized businesses. ZoneAlarm Anti-Ransomware continually monitors your device, detecting and blocking any ransomware attacks. In addition, this product will:

  • Automatically restore your encrypted files
  • Provide real-time phishing protection
  • Block attempts to lock your PC
  • Ensure you have access to your device
  • Catch ransomware attacks that other security solutions miss

Conclusion

The threat from cybercriminals increased in 2020, and it doesn’t look like it will dissipate any time soon. Small businesses, regardless of how they operate, should take steps to secure their systems against attacks. The cost of inaction can be devastating, as many companies have found out too late. But following simple steps on education and prevention, and making use of trusted cybersecurity software, can all but eliminate the threat cybercriminals pose. Act now to educate your employees of the risks, and make sure your business is covered by the best anti-virus solutions available.

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