Hackers are increasingly targeting small businesses. When setting up their companies, many entrepreneurs focus on growth and cost savings at the expense of cybersecurity. Thus, small and medium enterprises are often the least prepared for attacks.
By failing to secure your data environment, you become an easy target for cybercriminals. Therefore, it’s essential to protect your small business from hackers, and here are some tips that can help you navigate the domain of cyber threats.
Have a Backup for All Your Files
As small as your business might be, it still might collect large volumes of private data and personally identifiable information from its clients, employees, and vendors. The company’s data is also important and needs to be safeguarded. It’s a no-brainer that you should never store anything you cannot afford to lose in one device or location.
Besides having an external backup drive, consider the many cloud storage platforms you have at your disposal as mart of your cybersecurity plan. If cybercriminals steal your sensitive data and you have a backup, it will be easy for your business to recover from the breach. The same cannot be said of those small business owners who don’t have a firewall or data backup plan.
Backing up your data on external drives or the cloud can only be a safe option if the backed up data is secure. To safeguard your data further, it’s best to encrypt it. Similarly, encrypt all company emails containing sensitive or private information such as payment card details, social security numbers, and clients’ contact details. If your data is encrypted, it won’t be useful to cybercriminals even if they penetrate your network and steal it.
Train Your Employees
Most cyber-attacks that involve small businesses are caused by human error. You may have an experienced IT department, run by people with experience in dealing with malware, ransomware, phishing attacks, data breaches and more. But, if other employees know nothing about cybersecurity threats, they may be the weak link in your cyberspace. Employees can inadvertently cause cybersecurity breaches if you fail to train them properly about their roles in preventing attacks.
Cybersecurity awareness training should focus on detecting an attack, reporting suspicious incidents, and how to react when an attack occurs. You should also train them on how to use their login credentials responsibly. It’s equally important to ensure that everyone understands how to use the company’s IT resources responsibly and the penalties for failing to adhere to the laid-down security protocols.
Small Business Cybersecurity: Establish Clear Protocols
You cannot protect your small business from attacks if you don’t have well-defined cybersecurity policies in place. Before you even being operations, sit down with an IT expert and create a cybersecurity strategy for securing your hardware and network. Lay down internal cybersecurity rules that employees, vendors, and other stakeholders will follow once you’re operational.
Also, decide on the software that you will use for your IT environment. Avoid going for the minimal, more so if your business handles sensitive information such as medical, legal, and financial data. Some of the cybersecurity best practices that you should keep in mind include:
- Deciding on the frequency of running security scans and software updates.
- Defining which of your data is critical data.
- Deciding on the types of software protection that are crucial, and which ones are optional. For example, make sure to address multi-factor authentication, antivirus software, wi-fi network security, and more.
- Choosing how to train employees and user accounts that will have admin privileges.
Once you’ve established best defenses for your company, revisit it regularly, and make updates where necessary. Keep in mind that your cybersecurity protocols will only prevent cyber attacks if everyone follows it.
Have A Strong Password Policy
Some of the most common cybercrime results from the use of simple, generic passwords that are easy to guess. Most people know they should change passwords or make them more complex, but unfortunately, they don’t do it. Password practices go a long way in preventing security breaches. It all starts with implementing a strong password policy. When it comes to securing your business data, it’s best to take time and follow these basics:
- Use long passwords (at least 12 characters).
- Avoid using pet names, birthdays, your kids’ names, or passwords that you use elsewhere.
- Include a mix of numbers, symbols, letters, lowercase letters, and capitals.
- Don’t write your passwords on notebooks on Post-It stickers.
- Change passwords regularly (every three months).
Monitor Personal Devices
Many small businesses don’t have the resources to provide mobile devices or laptops to employees. As a result, employees often use their personal gadgets to access company data, especially as more people work from home. Nonetheless, this puts your company data at risk because it’s hard to monitor what employees do with their devices. To avoid this situation, implement a policy that lets your IT staff install monitoring software on employees’ devices.
As cybersecurity incidents keep rising, it’s becoming increasingly essential to safeguard your network. An attack can deal a significant blow to your small business. So, do whatever it takes to keep attackers at bay, rather than wait for your system to get breached.
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