Help4IT Top Tips: ways small businesses can prevent a cyber attack

Reported recently in the media was the news that South Korea has issued a cyber alert after an apparent hacking attack on government websites. Details included in many articles described the typical elements of the hacking process, unwanted messages would appear on websites and the sites themselves would essentially ‘break’ and then shut down.

South Korea are pioneers in the LTE race – they have recently launched the world’s fastest 4G network – yet simple cyber attacks still occur and still succeed. In light of such news, it begs the question: how can small businesses protect their networks from attacks?

The following is some helpful advice that addresses the issue of cyber attacks.

There are several typical measures that are put in place to protect networks and to avoid cases such as that of South Korea. They include:

  • Network protection
  • Wireless router protection
  • Data protection
  • Active defence


Network Protection

By installing a firewall that can prevent a packet of data from reaching the internal server you will prevent the computer network from seeing any serious harm. In this instance, the firewall will succeed but there are time in which the nature of the firewall can be used to disrupt the server. What is known as a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS) relies on the firewall to process [too] many packets at once and thus ‘overloading’ the system.


Wireless Router Protection

Creators of malware whose intent is to steal personal information will often attempt to do so by taking advantage of unprotected wireless networks. Allowing access to cyber criminals can be devastating to your network so it’s always a good idea to utilise the security features of your wireless router. This includes encrypting the network using WEP of WPA protocols and configuring the router to not broadcast the ESSID (the network name). Once the computers that make up your network are connected there is no longer a need for the ESSID to be displayed.


Data Protection

It’s good practice to change your usernames and passwords frequently, just to keep the criminals on their toes. This might seem too much like hard work but once your network is compromised you’ll wish you had done so. This means using different user names and passwords for each account you own. Hackers know this kind of user behaviour and so they’re looking for ways in.


Active Defence

For those that have the technical expertise it might be beneficial to be proactive in your network defence. By creating a program that is specifically designed to neutralise a threat rather than create obstacles, network administrators can be sure that most attacks are quashed. This technique is particularly useful for networks that are frequently under attack such as those of the government.

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