Cybersecurity in the Event of a Natural Disaster: Protecting Your Business
As we’ve seen recently throughout the state of Florida after Hurricane Ian, natural disasters can strike at any time and often without warning. For small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the aftermath of a natural disaster can be devastating, both in terms of property damage and data loss. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the most common cybersecurity threats faced by all businesses in the wake of a natural disaster, as well as some steps that can be taken to mitigate those threats.
Most businesses face a unique set of cybersecurity challenges when hit by natural disasters. With damaged or destroyed infrastructure, power outages, and limited resources, all businesses, especially SMBs, must be prepared to protect their data and systems from cyberattacks. By taking proactive measures to bolster their cybersecurity posture, these businesses can help ensure that they are able to weather the storm—literally and figuratively.
Common cybersecurity attacks in the aftermath of a natural disaster
After a natural disaster strikes, organizations are often left scrambling to restore critical business functions. This can leave them vulnerable to cyberattacks from opportunistic criminals who seek to take advantage of the chaos. Some of the most common cybersecurity threats faced by businesses in the aftermath of a natural disaster include:
- Phishing attacks:
Phishing attacks are one of the most common types of cyberattack, and they can be particularly devastating in the wake of a natural disaster. With employees working remotely and using personal devices to access corporate data, it’s important for companies to have stringent anti-phishing measures in place. These can include education and awareness programs for employees, as well as technical solutions such as email filtering and malware detection.
- Ransomware attacks:
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom be paid in order for the files to be decrypted. Ransomware attacks can be particularly damaging to an organization, as they may not have the resources or backup systems in place to recover from an attack. To protect against ransomware attacks, implement robust backup and recovery solutions, as well as security solutions such as endpoint protection and intrusion detection/prevention systems.
- Data breaches:
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, many organizations experience severe data breaches due to damaged or destroyed infrastructure, power outages, or employee error. To protect against data breaches, implement comprehensive security solutions such as firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and data loss prevention solutions. Companies should also have strict policies and procedures in place for managing data backups and recovery.
Steps Businesses Can Take to Mitigate Cybersecurity Threats
There are several steps that a business can take to mitigate the cybersecurity threats they face in the aftermath of a natural disaster. These steps include:
- Keep your anti-virus software up to date.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to make sure that your antivirus software is always up to date. That way, you’ll be protected against the latest threats, including those that may exploit vulnerabilities in the wake of a natural disaster.
- Create a business continuity plan.
A significant first step you should take to protect your company data is to create a business continuity plan. As we’ve seen, comprehensive business continuity plans that include security solutions such as firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, encryption and data loss prevention solutions are essential for protecting against data breaches. Your plan should outline how your business will continue to operate in the event of a natural disaster. It should include information on backup locations for critical data, alternative means of communication, and steps for rebuilding your physical infrastructure.
A firewall is a software or hardware-based system that filters traffic between two or more networks. It can be used to block incoming traffic from unauthorized sources, or outgoing traffic to unauthorized destinations. Firewalls can be either network-based or host-based. Network-based firewalls are typically used to protect an entire network, while host-based firewalls are installed on individual computers or servers.
Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems
An intrusion detection system (IDS) monitors network traffic for signs of suspicious activity or attempts to access unauthorized resources. An intrusion prevention system (IPS) goes one step further by blocking traffic that meets certain criteria. IDS/IPS systems can be either network-based or host-based.
Encryption is a process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format using a key. This prevents unauthorized individuals from accessing the data. Encryption can be used for both storage and communication purposes. When encrypting data at rest (i.e., stored on a server), it is important to use a strong encryption algorithm such as AES256. For data in transit (i.e., being sent over a network), SSL/TLS encryption should be used.
- Implement a robust backup solution.
One of the most important components of your business continuity plan should be a robust backup solution. Having robust backup and recovery plans in place is crucial for being able to recover from a ransomware attack or other type of data loss. This solution should be able to quickly and easily restore your data in the event that it is lost or corrupted. Make sure to test your backup solution regularly to ensure that it is working properly.
There are a variety of cybersecurity backup solutions available, so it’s important to choose one that’s right for your business. For example, if you have sensitive data that needs to be protected, you may want to consider a cloud-based backup solution. Cloud-based backup solutions are often more secure than on-premise solutions because they’re housed off-site and away from potential threats. They’re also more convenient because you can access your data from anywhere with an internet connection.
Another significant benefit of backup solutions is that they provide peace of mind. Knowing that your data is backed up regularly will give you confidence that it’s safe and secure, even if something happens to your primary system in a natural disaster. This way, you can focus on running your business without worrying about whether or not your data is at risk.
If you’re not sure which type of backup solution is right for your business, our team of experts can help you assess and choose the best option. We’ll work with you to understand your business’ specific requirements and then recommend a solution that will meet those needs.
- Train your employees on cybersecurity best practices.
In order for your cybersecurity measures to be effective, you must ensure that all of your employees are trained on best practices. Educating employees on cybersecurity best practices is one of the most effective ways to prevent phishing attacks and other types of human error-based incidents. Employees should be trained on proper security protocols such as password management, handling sensitive information, and recognizing phishing emails/websites.
Additionally, they should be aware of the potential consequences of not following these protocols (e.g., data breaches, malware infections). By ensuring that all employees are up-to-date on cybersecurity best practices, businesses can greatly reduce their risk of falling victim to cyber attacks. Additionally, make sure to have policies and procedures in place so that employees know what to do in the event of a data breach or other cyber incident.
Federal Government Assistance in the Wake of a Natural Disaster
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it’s important to know what resources are available to you from the federal government in the wake of a natural disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers a variety of programs and services that can help you protect your business from cyberattacks in the aftermath of a disaster. Here are just a few of the ways FEMA can help:
- The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) provides information and analysis on threats to critical infrastructure and advice on protective measures businesses can take to reduce their risk.
- The National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) leads national efforts to protect critical infrastructure and enhance resilience against all hazards through partnerships with critical infrastructure owners and operators, state and local governments, tribes, law enforcement, and the private sector.
- The Infrastructure Protection Division (IPD) develops policies and programs to reduce risks to critical infrastructure sectors including energy, financial services, healthcare, transportation, and water systems.
- The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides guidance for federal, state, local, tribal, territorial governments as well as nongovernmental organizations so they can work together effectively during incidents involving all hazards including cyberattacks.
- The National Response Framework (NRF) is a guide that prescribes how communities should prepare for and respond to incidents involving all hazards including cyberattacks.
- The National Preparedness Goal sets forth national priorities for preparedness so that communities can be better prepared for incidents involving all hazards including cyberattacks.
- FEMA also offers grant programs that can help you fund cybersecurity improvements in the wake of a natural disaster.
In conclusion, natural disasters can have a profound impact on businesses of all sizes. However, let’s face it, SMBs are prime targets at risk for cybercriminals even without natural disasters getting in the way—43% of data breaches in recent years were against SMBs—and the cost of a data breach is only increasing; the average cost of a data breach for an SMB is $2.2 million.
Regardless of your business size, by creating a business continuity plan, implementing a robust backup solution, and training your employees on cybersecurity best practices, you can help ensure that your organization is able to weather any storm—literally and figuratively. At Visual Edge IT, our national team of experts can assist you and your organization in taking the necessary steps to defend and protect your company’s data in the event of natural hazards.
Visual Edge IT, Inc. (VEIT) specializes in managed IT services and security, cloud computing, and print/copy solutions for businesses across the U.S. including remote office locations. We offer a full line of office technology and services including 24/7 remote monitoring and administration of networks, service desk, and data backup and restore to improve business processes across a variety of industries. Plus, Visual Edge IT™ represents the industry’s leading manufacturers of office technology allowing businesses to get equipment, supplies and service from a single source. Backed by more than 20-years of technology service and a national network of expert engineers, VEIT is uniquely positioned to support business technology needs. The company is headquartered in North Canton, OH, USA. Request your no-obligation assessment today and get a free dark web analysis.