Last year, the average cost of a data breach in the US was nearly $4 million per business. As with years in the past, 2019 was a record year in this respect, and expectations for 2020 are even grimmer. 

These hacks are not only getting more widespread but more targeted. Last year, a hacker used ransomware to shut down the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians networks targeting vital files and system resources. While fortunately, the criminal was caught, this is a sign of things to come. 

Worse yet, because of the economic damage, the coronavirus has wreaked, small businesses are in a worse position than ever to withstand one of these attacks. 

Here are five ways your employees can accidentally open the doors to criminals and what you can do to prevent them from happening and dramatically improve your cybersecurity. 

1. Opening and Clicking Fake Emails 

Fraudsters often use social engineering techniques to lure victims into opening emails and clicking on malicious links, tricking them into visiting fake web pages or downloading malware. 

In one such attack earlier this year, 25,000 patient records were jeopardized after an employee at the Native American Rehabilitation Association fell for one of these attacks. 

For these reasons, you must always verify that senders are who they claim to be and scan all files and links before clicking on anything in emails. 

2. Getting Tracked Online 

This can happen to anyone. Few people realize how vulnerable they are online and how much information their IP address reveals about them. 

The problem is this can have serious implications for your business. Hackers might use the data from one site to leverage access into your network. 

That's why you need to use a VPN to both encrypt and anonymize your internet connection. What is a VPN? A VPN is an easy-to-use and affordable software tool you can install on any internet-enabled device and immensely enhance your online world's safety. 

3. Reusing Passwords 

Many people are guilty of reusing passwords. Since the average person has 90+ online accounts, that makes sense. The problem is that if one site has a data breach, it puts every other account at risk. Since most people not only use weak passwords but the same or a similar one, it's easy for hackers to connect the dots. 

While it's impossible to remember a unique, complex password everywhere in the digital world, try using a password manager to create and securely store all your login credentials instead. 

4. Not Securing Their Own Networks 

Since many people are now working from home, they're outside the usually secure office environment. Home networks are full of security flaws. From not having passwords to using easily identifiable router information, they're a frequent target for hackers. 

From here, fraudsters might intercept data between the home and your business, use it to conduct malware attacks, and more. 

Encourage your employees to use encryption, strong passwords, unique router names, and separate guest networks for the people they invite into their homes. 

5. Forgetting to Back Up Files 

Hackers are clever. The blame can't squarely fall on your employees. But there are simple things you can do to minimize the damage hackers can do greatly should they manage to break into your network. 

The easiest and most effective way to stop ransomware attacks has a secure backup that you always have access to. Backing up at least once a week or more often as necessary to local and cloud storage blocks hackers and protects you from hardware failure or other issues. 

Don't let the mistake of an unaware employee threaten your business. Take the time now to educate them about these risks to prevent the damage of an attack from happening to you.

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