Hackers made international headlines last month after executing a global ransomware attack by exploiting a flaw in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. The malware, “WannaCry,” encrypted users’ files and forced users to pay ransom to un-encrypt them. The cyberattack hit a diverse array of targets from college students, to big companies like FedEx and even government agencies such as the Russian Interior Ministry. It is a stark reminder that cyberattacks can hit anyone, from individuals to fortune 500 companies.
Although it is impossible to protect against all cyberattacks, businesses need to be proactive in their cybersecurity efforts. Here are 5 ways to protect against a cyberattack.
1. Update Your Software
Keeping your software updated, while annoying at times, can spare your company from the very real consequences of a cyberattack. In fact, Microsoft put out an update back in March to fix the flaw that the hackers exploited. If users would have updated their operating systems, the attack would have been prevented. Similarly, companies should install antivirus software on all their computers (and always be sure to keep the software updated!).
2. Know the Signs of a “Phishy” Email
A “phishing” attack is where hackers send an email from what appears to be a familiar address, requesting that you click some link or download some document. However, the link or the download actually contains malicious code that infects a user’s computer. To avoid this scheme, look for email addresses that are not quite right e.g. the company name is slightly misspelled, or the email contains grammatical errors or typos. Also, it is good practice to hover over, but not click, any hyperlinks to ensure the link is to a secure website. If there is ever any doubt – delete the email.
3. Protect Your Hardware
While malware, ransomware and other cyberattacks make headlines, many cyberattacks still take the form of stolen hardware. Companies should take measures to protect their hardware from theft by physically locking up their computers and servers.
4. Do the Simple Things
Making sure your company follows the basic best practices for cybersecurity is one of the most effective ways of stopping a cyberattack. For example, ensure your company’s wi-fi network is secure and only open to you and your employees. Similarly, adopt a password policy that forces employees to regularly change their passwords and requires them to use a combination of numbers, symbols, and both capitalized and uncapitalized letters. These simple steps by no means make your system attack-proof, but most hackers will not want to take the time to get through these layers of protection. Instead, they will focus on easier targets.
5. Make Cybersecurity Part of Your Corporate Culture
As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and this is particularly true for cyberattacks. It is important to educate employees from the bottom up about the risks of cyberattacks and the best way to protect against them. It only takes one employee to fall for a “phishing” attack to take down your entire system or lose sensitive data. Emphasizing the importance of cybersecurity keeps employees on the look-out for possible cyberattacks, which, in and of itself, helps reduce your cybersecurity risks.
If you have any questions or concerns related to cyberattacks, or if you wish to develop a cybersecurity policy for your company, contact KJK’s Cybersecurity & Internet Privacy Practice Group.