How to Protect Your Business From Cyberattacks

By Alexander Niejelow, Senior Vice President for Cybersecurity Coordination and Advocacy at Mastercard

In a world where technology is rapidly becoming more intelligent, every business is vulnerable to cyberattacks. In fact, 50% of small- and medium-sized businesses have experienced a cyberattack 1, and only 14% of SMB owners rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks and attacks as highly effective 2.

It may go without saying, but if cyber readiness isn’t a consideration for your business already, it needs to be.  There are lots of steps you can take to decrease your chances of being victim to a cyberattack. You can start right here, just keep reading.

Back up your data

Regularly backup the data on all computers. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.

Focus on technology

Keep your business information safe by updating your software regularly. these critical security updates protect against hackers looking for cracks to slip through.

Likewise, installing an email security software is vital in uncovering whether an email is carrying a malware. The software will scan all incoming emails and will notify you if the email contains dangerous malware.  his is especially important when you consider the fact that malicious email attacks increased 667% in 2020, and 91% of all cyberattacks begin with a phishing email.

A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system’s firewall is enabled or install free firewall software available online.

Human factor

95% of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error 3. Train employees in security principles. Establish basic security practices and policies for employees, like requiring strong passwords. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.

Have an attack response ready

In the unfortunate event that your business or website has been hacked or is in the process of being hacked, there are specific procedures you can take as part of an attack response plan to counteract the actions of the hackers:

  • First, if your business or website is in the process of being attacked, immediately disconnect your system from its network.
  • Next, you’ll want to notify your bank, your processor, as well as the payment networks you use so they are aware of the issue at hand. Typically, one of these partners will be able to offer insight on how to deal with the problem and provide specific steps to minimize any liability.
  • Isolate the entry point of the hacking attempt. Once you’ve done this you will want to un-install the infected system to rid the virus from your networks. Afterwards, you can reinstall the system which was originally infected by the virus.
  • Most importantly, communicate with your customers. If your customers have been directly affected by the virus, be honest and unambiguous. Help them to resolve any issue they may be experiencing from a data breach with swift action.

Every business deserves protection to combat cyberattacks and cyber threats. Rapid technological advancements have increased vulnerabilities in companies, and, in some cases, the security of data and information has been compromised.

If you want to learn more about how you can protect your business – and yourself – against cyberattacks, check out Mastercard’s Trust Center.

Momentum Cybersecurity Almanac, 2020

Shepherd, 2019

Milkovich (2021), from

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