In this day and age, any company with an online presence can become the target of cybercrime. Even traditional brick-and-mortar businesses such as plumbing and water damage restoration contractors are no exception. Cybersecurity attacks can result in financial loss, long downtimes and poor customer service — to name just a few.
Fortunately, there are ways to protect your network effectively. Here are 10 measures that you can implement right now as part of your organization’s cyberattack prevention plan.
1. Secure your hardware
What is the easiest way for cybercriminals to breach your systems? By getting physical access to your company hardware such as servers, cell phones, laptops or other electronics. To safeguard your hardware, consider installing security cameras and physically locking down any servers and computers. You should also protect all devices with two-step authentication.
It is also a good idea to limit the use of business cell phones and laptops outside of the premises. However, that may be difficult considering that contractors' services are carried out in various locations.
2. Encrypt and back-up data
In addition to preventing physical access to your sensitive data, you also want to make that data useless if it ends up in the wrong hands by encrypting it. Encrypt all sensitive information, including customer and employee details and all business data. Virtually all modern operating systems come with built-in full-disk encryption software that encrypts all the data on a computer when it is at rest.
You should also back-up all your data in real-time. This way, even if a disaster strikes and hackers get access to your network, you will have copies of the latest data and will not be vulnerable to extortion.
3. Train your employees in cyber risk prevention
Just because you are running a company doesn’t mean you shouldn’t educate your employees about the basics of cybersecurity and how to prevent cyberattacks. Training your employees to recognize phishing, protect personal information, and handle sensitive data can significantly reduce your organization’s vulnerability against cyberattacks.
4. Invest in the right platforms
Make sure you have a reputable web application firewall (WAF) in place to protect your company website. If you are processing payments online, you should also see that your eCommerce platform is PCI-DSS Level 1 compliant. That will help prevent security breaches across the entire payment network.
5. Regularly update security software
Do not forget to update security software patches on a regular basis. Regular and timely maintenance is essential to ensuring that your security protections remain effective over time.
6. Limit employee access to sensitive data
Human error is among the chief culprits when it comes to information security breaches. One of the most effective strategies that can assist a contracting company with issues of security and privacy is to limit your employees’ access to sensitive data as much as possible.
Staff members should only be granted access to the specific information they need to do their jobs. In addition, if an employee leaves the organization, you should delete their accounts and passwords and collect any entry keys and ID badges right away. It is also a good idea to run background checks on all new employees before granting them access to sensitive business information or personal data.
7. Install uninterruptible power supplies and surge protectors
An uninterruptible power supply (UPS), also known as an uninterruptible power source, can be a real life-saver in the event of a power outage. These devices can extend your battery life long enough to allow you to save any unsaved data — which is why you should ensure that all your computers, laptops, and network-connected devices are plugged into a UPS at all times.
To protect less sensitive and non-networked electronics, you can install standard surge protectors instead. In either case, you want to make sure to test and replace all UPS devices and surge protectors as per the manufacturers’ instructions.
8. Secure your wireless access points
One of the most important cybersecurity countermeasures that any business should take is to secure all routers and wireless access points. Some of the key measures to take include:
- Changing the default passwords on all new devices as soon as they are installed;
- Avoiding Wired-Equivalent Privacy (WEP);
- Enabling Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA-2) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) on all routers;
- Making sure that routers do not broadcast their service set identifiers (SSID); and
- If you offer free Wi-Fi to your customers, be sure to provide them with a separate network and keep your business network off-limits
9. Take out a cybersecurity business insurance
Protecting your business from cybercrime is one thing. However, you should also have measures in place to help your company recover if a security breach does occur. Consider taking out a business insurance that specifically covers cyberattacks and losses resulting from extortion and data breaches.
10. Hire an expert
At the end of the day, keep in mind that you run a plumbing company or water restoration business. Neither you nor your employees are experts in cybersecurity.
One of the most effective protective measures for preventing security breaches would be to hire an information security professional. They can:
- Monitor your systems in real-time;
- Provide regular security training to your staff;
- Stay up to date on the latest developments in cybersecurity; and
- Help you draw and implement a comprehensive cyberattack prevention plan.