Ransomware attacks can be overwhelming and worrisome for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The impact of compromised infrastructure or leaked sensitive data can jeopardize the company’s survival. However, implementing effective cybersecurity measures doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. In this article, we will explore affordable and practical security basics that SMBs can implement to protect their data assets.
1. Network Infrastructure Review:
Ensuring the security of the network infrastructure should be the primary focus for SMBs. Regular updates for firewalls, VPN appliances, and other external infrastructure components are crucial. These updates make it harder for threat actors to exploit vulnerabilities and launch ransomware attacks. Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) using free tools like the Google Authenticator app can provide an extra layer of security without significant costs.
2. Strong Password Policies:
Password hygiene is often neglected, leaving organizations vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Eight-character passwords with numbers or lowercase letters can be cracked in a matter of seconds using brute force attacks. By increasing the password length to 16 characters or more, using a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, the time required to crack the password can be significantly extended. Encouraging employees to use passphrases or sentences instead of passwords can further enhance security.
3. Network Segmentation:
Implementing network segmentation can be an effective way to protect critical data. By separating user systems and data into different VLANs, the risk of a threat actor gaining access to all valuable information is reduced. Although it may require some time and effort, segmenting the network will make it harder for ransomware attacks to spread across the entire infrastructure.
4. Protection of Critical Data:
Identifying and protecting critical data, such as Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Personal Health Information (PHI), is crucial for SMBs. Storing sensitive data in a specific location and limiting access to that location reduces the attack surface. This approach also facilitates reporting and encrypting the data, making it unusable if obtained by threat actors.
5. Utilizing Antivirus Tools:
Antivirus technology has been around for decades and remains an essential part of network security. Keeping antivirus tools up to date with the latest definitions is crucial to protect against evolving threats. While they may not be as robust as endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions, antivirus tools can still provide effective protection, particularly for SMBs.
Ongoing Best Practices:
Apart from the mentioned security basics, there are additional low-cost measures SMBs can implement, including log management, regular backups following the 3-2-1 approach, privileged access controls, and security training and awareness programs. These practices ensure that employees and customers remain safe from cyber threats.
Implementing affordable cybersecurity measures is essential for SMBs to protect their data assets and remain in business. By following these security basics and incorporating ongoing best practices, SMBs can enhance their cybersecurity posture and mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks. Don’t wait; take action to safeguard your business today.