Every business – new and established – is susceptible to cybersecurity threats. Don’t assume that because your business is small it will not appear on a cybercriminal’s radar.

In fact, with their new IT systems, unregulated Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) networks and less experienced staff, startups are arguably more at risk as they’re often seen as a soft target by would-be hackers.

So, if you’re storing sensitive information, like customer payment data or employee information, it’s essential you have an understanding of the threats you face and the strategies you can use to protect your assets.

Defending Against Cyber Attacks

To help you stay one step ahead of this ever-present threat, here is our quick guide to the five biggest cybersecurity risks you face, and the security measures you can put in place to counteract them.

1. Phishing Attacks

If only there were as many generous benefactors in the real world as there appear to be on email. Unfortunately, there aren’t. These are examples of phishing attacks sent by cybercriminals who are trying to gain access to sensitive information.

Attackers also pose as banks, online services and other supposedly trustworthy contacts by creating realistic emails to dupe users into handing over payment information, passwords and more.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Keep in mind that genuine companies will NEVER ask for sensitive information via email, so be suspicious of any emails that do.
  • If you receive customer payments over the phone, make sure you install anti-malware software as one step towards Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance.
  • You should also have spam filters turned on and educate members of staff about the tell-tale signs of a phishing scam.

2. Ransomware

This is a relatively new form of malware that attempts to encrypt your data before asking for a ransom to be paid for the data to be released. Most ransomware is released via malicious emails.

To stay protected:

  • Ensure all your staff are aware of the threat posed by malicious emails, particularly those that try to prompt a response.
  • Keep all software and applications up to date in line with PCI compliance requirements.
  • Perform regular, well managed backups so you can recover data if necessary. You should also regularly test your backups.

3. Data Leakage

The risk of data leakage is at its greatest in organisations that handle and store sensitive customer information. The use of smartphones and tablets has made it more difficult than ever to ensure data is safe. Here are our top tips to help you avoid a data breach:

  • Ensure all mobile devices are password protected.
  • Turn on GPS tracking and switch on functionality that allows you to wipe data remotely if a device is lost.
  • Ensure any sensitive customer data you need to store is encrypted in line with the requirements of PCI DSS.

4. Hacking

Hacking is the process individuals from outside the business use to gain access to company IT systems and networks. Successful “hacks” can offer rich pickings for cybercriminals, allowing them to steal customer payment information, intellectual property and other sensitive data.

To protect against hackers, you should:

  • Install network firewalls.
  • Implement strict data access security measures in line with PCI requirements.
  • Never take, process or store sensitive information you do not need.

5. Insider Threats

Employees, contractors, clients and other third parties always pose a risk of an accidental or malicious data leak. Sophisticated tactics such as keylogging can be used, which allows attackers to log mouse movements, keystrokes and on-screen presses.

To mitigate the risks, you should:

  • Educate your team about the risks that exist.
  • Limit the amount of sensitive data staff can access in line with the PCI DSS.
  • Control the use of portable storage devices in the workplace.
  • Consider monitoring the behaviour of staff who have access to sensitive information.

To further enhance data security and reduce the risk of a data breach, consider working with a secure payment solution provider. At PCI Pal, we ensure no cardholder data ever reaches your system, while ensuring easy and secure access to the data your operators need – when they need it. To learn more, please contact our expert consultants today.