Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses: You Are Not Immune to Cyber Attacks
As a small business owner, you may think that your company is too small to be a target for hackers or cybersecurity breaches.
In fact, small businesses are becoming more and more enticing to hackers, and hackers aren’t the only risk. Disgruntled or careless employees or former employees can also pose a hazard to your company’s sensitive data. The reality is that if you own and run a business, no matter how small, you need a cybersecurity plan.
Why Is Your Small Business at Risk for Cyber Attacks and Breaches?
Because most small businesses believe that they are too small to be targeted by hackers, they are actually prime targets. Many companies take credit/debit and other sensitive information over an internet connection of some kind, and they often do their own banking and financials on their computers. Without strong encryption and other cybersecurity measures, your small business could be particularly vulnerable, as hackers see this as an easy target to get a lot of useful information. Furthermore, if you work with larger companies, your company can be seen as an entry point to go after the “bigger fish.”
But, as previously mentioned, hackers and outside cyber assaults are not the only threats facing small businesses. Any size business can fall victim to careless or malicious employee practices. Employees may leave computers unlocked and unattended or they may click links embedded in spam, or they may be more intentional in their damaging behaviors, like deleting, corrupting, or publishing sensitive company data. Either way, there are a number of business data security risks that you need to be aware of no matter how big or small your business is.
Small Business Cybersecurity Tips: A Quick Guide
Overall, the best ways to keep your data safe aren’t too different from the guidelines you should follow as a larger company. It’s mostly a matter of scaling the security measures to right-size them for your company’s needs. Here are 10 straightforward ways to boost your business computer security and safeguard your data.
Encryption scrambles data so it is harder to compromise if it is stolen or duplicated, as the information can’t be unscrambled without the password (also called a decryption code). You don’t need to be a computer whiz to use encryption; there are tons of programs and tools out there to help you encrypt and decrypt data, so we highly recommend you encrypt everything on all devices used for your business (smartphones, tablets, USBs, laptops, etc.), especially since it’s easier and safer to encrypt full disks instead of a few select files.
These are great for protecting your networks and computers from outsiders trying to access your data. Most operating systems come with a firewall program, so make sure it is active. There are also other firewall programs that are widely available (and affordable). Don’t forget to make sure that employees who work from home are protecting their devices with firewalls as well.
#3. Keep Your Software Up To Date
Regardless of how time-consuming and tedious operating system, browser, and antivirus updates can be, you need to keep these current. These updates usually include patches that fill holes in security and improve the effectiveness of the system. If you ignore these updates, you could be leaving a known exploit wide open for hackers to use.
#4. Back Up Everything
Your business runs on information. If your small business is breached by a cyber attack, your data could be corrupted or deleted. Without a backup of this information, you could be in serious trouble. Whether you have this backup in the cloud or on a physical hard drive depends on your company’s needs, but either way, you should have this backup information and it should be encrypted.
#5. Secure Your Wi-Fi
If you have Wi-Fi, that’s another way hackers can attempt to piggyback information off of the network, “listening in” to the information being transmitted over your wireless network. Make sure they can’t do this by securing, password protecting, and encrypting your wireless access point(s) and router(s). You should also set your Wi-Fi up so it doesn’t broadcast the network name and can only be found by those who know to look for it.
#6. Use Password Protection and Authentication
Choose strong passwords and keep to password best practices to keep your data safe, and make sure your employees do the same. Passphrases are safer than passwords, and it’s best to use a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t use the same password on more than one account and never use the “save password” feature in browsers. You should also use two-factor authentication wherever possible, causing a passcode to be sent to a separate device which also needs to be entered to gain access to a device or account. This makes it far less likely that passwords will fall into the wrong hands, especially since would-be thieves now need two of them to successfully access your company’s information.
#7. Make Sure Each Employee Has Their Own User Account
When each employee has their own account, each can be given specific permissions to do only what they need to do to a computer (such as installing programs or making crucial changes to the network), and actions on each workstation are more easily traced back to a specific person (e.g. copying a sensitive file). You can also limit access to sensitive information this way. If an employee doesn’t have these permissions on their account, they will have to ask someone with admin permissions to do such things, drastically lowering the risk of many forms of data security breach.
#8. Train Employees in Security Awareness and Best Practices
Even if you follow every other business data security tip in the book, your business data can be vulnerable due to human error. As a result, more and more companies of all sizes are recognizing the importance of IT security awareness training programs and implementing them to prevent breaches. Even small business cybersecurity plans should include such training, and we have a whole article outlining what IT security awareness training should cover.
#9. Make Sure to Have a BYOD Security Policy in Place if Needed
Don’t forget to implement some sort of BYOD security policy if you are allowing employees to use their own smartphones, laptops, or other devices for work. BYOD policies may come with a number of benefits, but there are risks that come with them as well, and you need to make sure that you have a clear, specific policy in place to keep your small business data safe regardless of the devices employees use to access it.
#10. Consider Cybersecurity Insurance
A lot of small businesses overlook the fact that cybersecurity insurance is, in fact, available. Often, your general liability policy won’t cover a cyber attack or breach, so you may want to weigh the costs versus the rewards of having a separate cybersecurity policy to help recover losses or legal fees in the event of such a breach. Plus, many insurance companies that offer these policies are now providing more affordable options tailored towards small businesses, so you won’t have to buy a big policy meant for a large company that will break the bank.
Bonus Tip! Have a Strong IT Infrastructure Built with Security in Mind
You should have hardware and software that work together to keep your business data safe and running properly. At C1C, we know the importance of installing and upgrading IT infrastructure for small businesses that minimize the risk of cybersecurity attacks. If you would like to install, upgrade, or even just evaluate your IT infrastructure, call in the experts at Customer 1st Communications. Our knowledgeable and experienced professionals can help. For a free consultation, call 855-TECH-C1C (855-832-4212) or contact us online.