There's no doubt you've probably seen terms like "security breach" and "a company was hacked" recently on the news. In fact, these sorts of cyber attacks happen far more often than most people realize.

But while you might think cyber attacks only happen to the big Fortune 500 business like Equifax or Yahoo, the reality is many small businesses face risk and aren't prepared when it comes to cybersecurity.

Now before you get too nervous, it's never too late to protect your company and your employees. We're going to let you know some of the small steps you can start taking right now to reduce the chances of a cyber attack.

What you need to know about cyber attacks

A cyber attack is a coordinated attack launched from one computer against another computer, group of computers or network.

In most cases, there are two main types of cyber attacks. One is to knock the intended target offline and the other is to access the system to access valuable information.

For most small businesses, it's the second type of attack is more common. This is especially true if your company holds sensitive information including credit card or bank account numbers, social security numbers, company payroll or health data.

If that's the case, a hacker could decide to target your network to try and get a hold of your customer's credit card numbers, for example, so they can use them to make purchases.

In the event something like that happened, it becomes a huge headache for your customers — and it hurts your business' reputation.

How to protect your business from a cyber attack

Now that you understand just how easy it is for information to get stolen you can start implementing steps to protect vital information.

Also note that if you have remote workers or people who use a home office part-time, make sure to include them in these policies too.

Check your software

One easy first step is to check your software and operating systems to make sure they are up to date. A lot of times, hackers can infiltrate systems that aren't updated because they've discovered a way in.

Make it a company policy to set a schedule that checks for any software or system updates and perform them.

Train employees

More often than not, your employees are your first line of defense against cyber attacks. Include some training on cybersecurity, not just during your on-boarding process and in your employee handbook but have annual discussions on cybersecurity too.

It's also a good idea to recommend employees use strong passwords (123456 is not allowed) and have those passwords reset on a regular basis. Tools like LastPass and 1Password are great for setting strong passwords and keeping them secure.

Don't forget about email too. Hackers will send emails that look like they are legitimate and ask the recipients to share personal information or to download a file, thus letting them into the system. This is called "phishing." Remind your employees to ask if they have even the slightest doubt before engaging with these emails.

This post has some good basic tips on how to avoid getting caught up in phishing.

Create backups

Another good preventative measure is to create backups of all your data and files on a regular basis. This is a good practice to put in place anyway, many businesses will do a weekly data backup.

That way, in the event there is a security breach, you don't have to worry that all your information is lost. And you can use that data to identify what information got stolen.

What if you get hacked?

If you get hacked here are a few things you can do:

  • Immediately change all system passwords
  • Work to find where the hacker entered the system (i.e. email)
  • Scan all your systems for malware or viruses
  • Contact customers, if they are impacted

If the hack is beyond your control, get in touch with a cybersecurity company who can walk you through the process.

Watch out for your business

Protecting your business is a main priority for any business owner. That's why developing a cybersecurity plan is so important even if the risk for an attack is small.

Another way to protect your business is through workers' compensation insurance. In Colorado, workers' comp is required for most businesses by law.

Don't leave yourself or your employees exposed. Get in touch with Cake today and you can have a quote online in just 5 minutes.