Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

6th September 2021

As a small business owner, you will want to do all that you can to protect your company. These days, cybercrime is an enormous and growing problem affecting businesses of all sizes and industries. The pandemic has led to a sharp rise in digital attacks, largely due to the fact that so many people are working remotely and the vulnerabilities that this creates. A cyber-attack can ruin your company and, in more ways, than one, so it is important to do all that you can to protect yourself with cybersecurity. Keep reading for a few cybersecurity tips that I believe should help your business this year.

Use Staff Training

Perhaps the most important aspect in ensuring cybersecurity is to use staff training, especially if you have employees that are working remotely. Of course, it is important to have cybersecurity protections in place, but most attacks are successful due to human error/negligence. Therefore, you need to use staff training so that your team know how they can carry out their role safely, spot common cybersecurity scams, and protect sensitive data efficiently.

Use Complex Passwords

use complex password
People often imagine cybercriminals using advanced techniques and methods to access data, but it is often simply a case of guessing/stealing passwords. This is why it is so important that you and your team are using complex passwords and different passwords for different accounts. I find this to be one of the best ways to protect sensitive data, and you can use a password manager to manage all of the passwords you have instead of writing them down.

Change Passwords Often


Leading on from this, I also recommend that you make sure that you and your team are changing passwords often. You are putting sensitive data at risk if you do not change your passwords every few months, as a hacker is more likely to find out a password if it is not changed.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

 

Another way to protect your accounts is with two-factor authentication, which will provide another layer of defence when logging into accounts. In addition to providing a username and password, users will have to complete another action to gain access to the account. This might include having a verification code sent to their phone or a question to which only they will know the answer.

Use A VPN


A VPN is an important cybersecurity product to use, especially if you have staff that works remotely. A VPN creates a private network and secure network so that data can be transferred safely. Remote workers are putting data at risk if they are working somewhere like a library, cafe, or shared working space as the Wi-Fi connection may not be secured, which means that anyone could access and use important company data. A VPN will offer protection and peace of mind so that your staff can work with confidence and protect company data no matter where they are.

Invest In High-Quality Antivirus Software


Obviously, antivirus software is essential for protecting company data from the latest threats. Antivirus software can monitor and scan your system so that threats are prevented, identified, and removed immediately. This is the foundation of your cybersecurity system, so it is important that you invest in high-quality antivirus software and that this is kept up to date at all times so that you are always protected against the latest threats.

Use A Firewall

Use a firewall
A firewall is another important cybersecurity product that can provide a high level of protection against online threats. Essentially, a firewall is a network security product that monitors and controls the network traffic based on security rules. This can prevent malicious traffic from an external network (the internet) and keep your internal system safe at all times.

Create A Cybersecurity Policy


Every organization needs to have a cybersecurity policy that will set the standards for behaviour for staff. Cybersecurity policies are important because they can clearly establish rules and behaviour for staff regarding cybersecurity, which helps them better understand what they can and cannot do. This should help prevent cybersecurity issues from appearing and protect the business if there is ever a breach that resulted from staff failing to abide by the cybersecurity policy.

Backup Data Externally


Having external backups of sensitive data is a safeguard measure that can help to provide peace of mind. This way, if there is ever a breach and data is stolen, damaged, or corrupted, you will have another copy easily available. Ransomware is one of the most common forms of cybercrime right now and involves holding sensitive data ransom, but this will not be an issue if you have copies stored elsewhere. This is why you need to set up automatic backups and keep these on an external device, such as an external hard drive.

Protect The Business from Phishing


These days, phishing is perhaps the biggest cybersecurity issue affecting both individuals and businesses. A US survey found that as many as 46% of people have fallen victim to a phishing scam, and they are becoming incredibly advanced, which can make them hard to spot. They have become even more prevalent during COVID-19, with cybercriminals posing as reputable companies in an attempt to steal sensitive data. The key here is being wary and knowing how to spot phishing attacks, which is possible with the Proofpoint Anti-Phishing Training Suite. This will help you and your team to carry out your role with confidence and spot any phishing attack so that you can protect your company’s sensitive data before it can even become vulnerable.

Keep Software Up to Date


When a computer user gets an alert that a software update is available, it is easy to simply choose to delay the update. This could prove to be a costly mistake, though, because software updates often contain important new security upgrades. When cybercrime is so prevalent and threats are constantly emerging, your software must always be kept up to date so that you have the latest protection in place. This is why you and your team should be completing software updates as soon as they become available, even if this interferes with your work – it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to cybercrime.

Be Wary of social media


Social media continues to have a huge presence in business and in life and can certainly be useful from a business standpoint. However, while it has its perks, it is also important to be aware that social media can create vulnerabilities and that you and your team need to be careful when using a business or personal social media profile. This will involve never sharing any sensitive information, even in a private message with one of your close contacts (who might have been hacked).

Take Out Cyber Insurance


Even with high levels of protection and staff training, cyber-attacks are successful and can cause significant disruption to your business. Cybersecurity insurance can provide financial protection in the event of a data breach, malware infection, or any other kind of digital attack that results in losses. In addition, having cybersecurity insurance in place can provide important peace of mind knowing that you are protected, which is partially useful for a smaller business that might otherwise find it hard to survive a digital attack that results in financial loss.

Set Procedure for Mobile Usage


These days, people often use their mobile devices for work purposes. While this is beneficial for the business and staff in many ways, it can also pose security and management issues if the de-vice contains sensitive data and/or can access the organization’s network. This is why you need to have procedures, such as using passwords/biometrics to protect the device and data encryp-tion. When you have rules in place, it will provide protection and ensure that people are always using their mobile for work positively and not putting data at risk.

Be Wary of Shoulder Surfing


Following on from this, you also need to be aware of shoulder surfing and the risk that this poses. This is where people steal sensitive data simply by looking over their shoulder and is a common issue when people often work on the train, in cafes, and in other public spaces. You and your team need to be aware of this threat and ensure that you are always cautious when working in public and not entering any sensitive information unless you are sure that nobody is looking at your screen/device.

Do Not Leave Devices Unattended


Leading on from this, you must always make sure that devices are never left unattended. This is particularly true for staff working in public areas, such as shared workspaces or libraries. Obvi-ously, leaving a phone, laptop, or any other device unattended is a major risk because both the data and device are at risk.

Use Access Control


Another smart way to protect your business is by setting access control. By controlling who can access sensitive files and data, you are not putting the data at risk and protecting staff by not giving them access to data that could be lost/damaged/stolen due to negligence. Not everyone in the organization will need access to sensitive data, such as financial documents, so control-ling who can see and use this data will provide a strong layer of protection. You should also set administrative privileges and only give these to IT staff and those who need to make changes.

Identify Your Weaknesses


To protect your organization from cybercrime, you cannot have any vulnerabilities. However, one weak link in the chain makes everything else weak, so it is important to be able to spot where you have any weaknesses. You can do this by using either your internal IT staff to carry out PEN testing, or you can use the services of an external IT consultant. They will be able to spot any vulnerabilities you have and help you improve so that you can rest assured knowing that you have strong protection throughout the entire organization.

Have A Response Strategy in Place


If the worst should happen, time is sensitive, so you need to know how to react to mitigate damage. This means that you need to have clear procedures in place and have a designated response team that will know what to do straight away after a data breach. Additionally, you should perform regular test runs to improve response time and effectiveness so that the amount of damage done is limited in the event of a real attack.

Stay Current with The Latest News & Developments


Cybercrime is constantly changing, and new threats are being developed, which means that business owners need to see this as an ongoing threat and issue. Therefore, you need to stay current with the latest news, developments, and trends so that you can provide continuous protection and keep your business safe from the latest threats. You can do this by reading blogs, attending relevant events, following channels on social media, and signing up for newsletters, just as a few examples of ways to stay up to date.

Encourage Accountability


Cybersecurity only works when everyone does their part, which is why encouraging accountability is so important. You should encourage staff to hold each other accountable and to have an anonymous reporting system where people can report if any employees are not abiding by the cybersecurity policy or acting in a way that could endanger the business.

Hopefully, this post will help you improve your business’s cybersecurity and prevent any attacks from occurring. Cybercrime is a major and growing problem, but when a business owner knows what steps to take to protect the business, it can prevent attacks from disrupting the company and give you confidence knowing that you have protection in place. Cybersecurity is a team effort, though, so you also need to ensure that everyone buys in and that cybercrime is at the forefront of people’s minds, particularly when working remotely. Worried about cybercrime? Use this information to bolster your protection and get peace of mind.

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Author : Carol T

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