Three in Four Cyber Attacks Target Small Businesses: Protecting Your Rural Business Network from Harm – Rhoonet
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Three in Four Cyber Attacks Target Small Businesses: Protecting Your Rural Business Network from Harm

Small rural businesses are fast becoming hackers’ most lucrative victims. Several studies confirm that about three in four successful cyber attacks are carried out against small or medium-sized enterprises. Small businesses are prime targets for hackers

Rural grocery store owner awaiting customers

Rural grocery store owner awaiting customers

because, unlike large enterprises, they often don’t practice strict cyber security measures or, sometimes, any cyber security measures at all.

Because small businesses don’t take the proper precautions to protect their networks, hackers have an easier time accessing their information than they have trying to break through the multiple levels of security that large enterprises use. Once they have access to information, hackers can steal sensitive data, blackmail your business or its clients, or freeze the data and then charge you a sum to unfreeze it.

The process is costly for businesses. Each year, cybercrime costs the American economy $100 billion in losses. Some of these loses are high profile attacks on companies like PlayStation – which lost $170 million in a cyber attack in 2011 – but many are four- or five-figure extortions of hardworking small businesses.

Security has never been as big of an issue for rural businesses as it has been for urban businesses.

You should definitely avoid clicking on a link in any suspicious emails

You should definitely avoid clicking on a link in any suspicious emails

Until now. The internet bridges the gap between your business and customers thousands of miles away, but it also bridges the gap between your business and criminals thousands of miles away. Protect your network from remote attacks by taking these five steps:

  1. Do not click on links in suspicious emails. Beware of emails sent to you from a fraudulent source that impersonate reputable companies in order to solicit personal information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, or online banking usernames and passwords. Always authenticate the sender’s email address before clicking on a link and, even if the source is authentic, do not reveal passwords over email.
  2. Use firewalls and encryption. A firewall is a network security system that controls network traffic.

    You can never be overly protected in the cyber world

    You can never be overly protected in the cyber world

    Even inexpensive firewall software can protect your local network from the internet at large. Encryption, the practice of scrambling data sent over the internet to avoid interception en route, is an online security tool that can be applied to any online activity.

    Encryption protects sensitive data from hackers, government surveillance, and corporate espionage. Turn on encryption in Microsoft Outlook by going through Trust Center > E-mail Security > Encrypted e-mail.

  3. Automatically install software updates.

    Don’t forget to download update patches

    Don’t forget to download update patches

    Software updates often include patches designed to address recently discovered security breaches in the program. Hackers are always discovering new ways to break into programs. Software companies address these new breaches with patches. Using an older version of a program can put you at risk.

  4. Backup your data offline or on a different server. A recent article in The Guardian described how hackers breached a small car rental business network using a phishing scheme.

    Backup your data frequently from the bad guys

    Backup your data frequently from the bad guys

    Once in, they encrypted all the business’s information and asked the business to pay £3,000 to unlock the encryption. The business needed the encrypted information to continue operating, so it paid up. If the business had backed up their information on an offline hard disk or on the cloud, the scam wouldn’t have worked.

  5. Password protect and, if possible, hide your Wi-Fi network. If you store sensitive information about your business or clients on your computers, make your Wi-Fi network undiscoverable. To do so, adjust your router settings so

    You need to password protect all of your networks at any cost

    You need to password protect all of your networks at any cost

    that the router does not broadcast the network name or “Service Set Identifier” (SSID) publically. If you also need public Wi-Fi for your clients, set up a separate network (as funds allow). Password protect both networks.

As funds allow, always feel free to go above and beyond with your security practices. Sometimes small businesses find it difficult to see the value in an internet security system since, if the system is working correctly, nothing happens. Small businesses must, however, be proactive against cyber crime since, once the breach happens, there is often no effective legal remedy for businesses to pursue against hackers who might be halfway around the world.

I would be very grateful if you can share this with family, friends and colleagues. Thanks you!




Stephen Kota

Steve Kota is the Chief Story Teller at Rhoonet. Mr Kota spent over 15 years as East Coast Territory Manager at HughesNet; the provider of rural satellite broadband.​ Steve spends his leisure time travelling, painting, fishing and photography.

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