A hospital in Wichita is still reeling from a cyber-attack it suffered last week. The Kansas Heart Hospital fell victim to ransomware -- a software that encrypts all the files on your computer and then demands a ransom to unlock them. They payed the ransom, but according to reports, the hackers only gave back partial access to the files before demanding more money to unlock the rest.
Fortunately, the attack didn’t jeopardize the hospital’s patient files, which would have made the situation much worse. But they could have avoided the bad situation altogether if they had better computer and network security in place.
It’s not just hospitals that are being targeted. Major companies like Sony, LinkedIn, and Target have recently fallen prey to hackers. Since small businesses can be even more vulnerable, here are five cyber security tips to help you keep your company out of the hands of today’s cyber-criminals.
1. Back Up Everything
If the Kansas hospital had a proper backup system in place, then the ransomware attack would have been a lot less effective. You can learn from their mistake. We recommend using a cloud storage option that automatically backs up your data as you save it on your physical machines.
There are several companies out there that offer this type of service. Some of the most popular options are Microsoft Cloud, SugarSync, Dropbox Business, and MozyPro.
If you go with an option that doesn’t back up everything, you’ll need to choose which files to save. Here’s where you should start:
Remember, saving your files in more than one place can be a lifesaver if the worst ever should happen.
2. Teach Your Employees
Your employees are your greatest assets as well as your biggest liabilities. That’s especially true when they’re using their computers. So be sure to establish clear cyber security rules.
We recommend creating a thorough cyber security plan that’s unique to your type of business. After you develop a good set of rules, you’ll need to go over them with your employees. Here are a few basic rules to help you get started:
If your office doesn’t currently employ an IT specialist, it might be time to have one come in and check out your computers. They can help you set up new antivirus and antispyware programs if you don’t have them already, check to make sure all your drivers are updated properly, look for any security holes in unpatched software you might be using, and suggest any necessary improvements to your cyber security plan.
3. Know Who Accesses Your Machines
Cyber-thieves will sometimes hack into one business to access another. So you should consider which businesses you have relationships with and who might be more vulnerable to an attack.
If you feel like there’s a chance some of your less reputable partners are more risk than they’re worth, it might be time to cut ties with them.
You should also keep in mind that businesses might stop working with you if they think you are a security threat.
4. Hide Your Wi-Fi Network
You don’t want to risk someone hacking through your Wi-Fi to access your computers. So consider this when setting up your office’s Wi-Fi:
Leaving your Wi-Fi open is like leaving the front door open when you are away. It just doesn’t make sense.
5. Think Like a Criminal
One of the reasons big companies keep getting hacked is because cyber-criminals are always adapting to the latest security protocols. There is a way to beat them. You just have to stay one step ahead.
Put yourself in the shoes of a cyber-thief and try to figure out how you would break into your system. This will help you better fortify your security. If you don’t have time to foolproof your system and keep up to date on the latest hacks, it might be time to hire a full-time IT specialist.
What to Do if You’ve Already Been Hacked
We hope these tips help keep your office safe against today’s savviest cyber-criminals. If you do end up getting hacked, there are a few things you should do right away:
Like in many things in life, a good defense is the best offense. As you actively prepare for the worst, you’ll be a less obvious target for cyber-criminals. Start now.