The Best Cybersecurity Practices for Your Small Business
Running a business can’t be imagined without the help of the latest technologies. However, all these automation platforms, all kinds of programs, and unlimited cloud storage plans come with a downside – cyber insecurity and various system vulnerabilities exploited by hackers and cybercriminals. Many small business owners don’t take these threats seriously because they believe that security breaches and cyber attacks happen only to big companies, and this is a crucial mistake. Here are some of the best cybersecurity practices which can protect your small business.
Yes, it can happen to you
This is the first and most important step towards protecting your small business from cyber threats. Thinking that the data you collect and store is of no interest to hackers and cybercriminals is a dangerous misconception. In 2016, more than 50% of businesses which have income less than $10 million a year were subjected to security breaches. According to research studies, 60% of SMBs never recover from a cyber attack and usually go under within the next 6 months. This stat illustrates how critical it is to have security measures in place. There are numerous ways cybercriminals can take advantage of your database, so make sure to fortify it as soon as possible. If you aren’t sure how to protect your business, it’s a good idea to hire a cybersecurity consultant, like this one here, and have everything taken care of by a professional.
Set up a firewall
Enabling a firewall is the most basic measure of protection against a cyber attack, and every SMB should use it as the first line of defense. Apart from using an external firewall, it’s a good idea to add another layer of protection by installing internal firewalls. Finally, your employees who work from home and access the company database should also install a firewall because cybercriminals look for any crack in the system. So, if you have remote employees, make sure to provide all kinds of support for their home networks.
Educate your employees
If your business isn’t a software or IT startup, it’s very likely that many of your employees don’t know much about cybersecurity, let alone that some of their online activities can expose the whole company to a cyber threat. That’s why it’s essential to organize cybersecurity training courses in order to keep your staff updated about the latest email and phishing scams, as well as to inform them about your internal cybersecurity policies.
Data encryption is a must
Data encryption is one of the best and most effective methods for protecting your sensitive data. It allows you to translate your data into a secret code, which means that it’s safe even if it’s intercepted by cybercriminals. The only way to decipher encrypted data is by means of the key. In case that your website has user registration and login option, or if it accepts credit cards, you need to protect your customers’ information by switching from HTTP to HTTPS protocol. A green padlock in the address bar indicates that your website is safe, and this will positively affect your business because your customers won’t be worried about trusting you with their credit card numbers and other sensitive data.
Use safe passwords
Believe it or not, but many people still use their own birthdays as their passwords. What’s even worse, they tend to use the same password for various accounts, which means that if just one of them is hacked, the others will be too. According to the information published in its 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, Verizon found that 63% of data breaches occurred due to lost, weak, or stolen passwords. Using strong, complex passwords is mandatory and this practice should be enforced by strict company policies. Changing passwords on a regular basis, that is every 60 to 90 days, is another requirement necessary for protecting your databases. Encourage your employees to use passwords containing both upper and lower-case letters, numbers, as well as special characters.
Back up your data
No matter how hard you try to prevent cyber attacks and stop breaches, sometimes it’s not possible to do anything about that. But, there’s no need to despair, because there’s another measure of precaution which can save the day even if a cybersecurity incident happens – regular data backups. It’s of vital importance to back up all your data, including databases, financial files, electronic spreadsheets, HR files, and customer information. Don’t forget to back up the information from your cloud storage too. The first rule says that your backups should be stored on different locations to protect them from fires, floods, earthquakes, and other disasters. That way you’ll always have at least one safe, functional copy.
These security practices are extremely simple, and yet many SMBs fail to follow them thus putting their profit, reputation, and future in jeopardy.
Lauren Wiseman: marketing specialist, contributor to bizzmarkblog.com and entrepreneur. She helps clients grow their personal and professional brands in fast-changing and demanding market, strongly believing in a holistic approach to business.