Many small business owners assume they are not famous enough to be the target of cyberattacks. This mindset can lead to all sorts of trouble, including loss of your most valuable asset: customer data. It is always wise to put a cybersecurity strategy in place, regardless of the size of your business.
Hackers and criminals are actually quite aware of the lackluster effort made by small business owners in the area of cybersecurity protection. Thus, they are always ready to exploit any loopholes you have open.
Even though small businesses tend to neglect cybersecurity, one thing is for certain: it’s much easier to get inside an unprotected system than it is to penetrate the security of big corporations.
If we are to look at data from the USA, 71% of cyberattacks were aimed at businesses with less than 100 employees. The numbers shouldn’t be too different in Australia either.
Remember that hackers can steal money, employee details, customer data, and other valuable information. Moreover, a data breach can damage your relationship with employees and customers. In the end, it will hinder the growth of your business.
But that’s not the scariest part. Keep in mind that approximately 50% of small businesses that have been victims of cyberattacks will go out of business within six months after the attack. Scary, isn’t it?
Best cybersecurity practices that can put your business on the safe map
Do you fully understand the significance of cybersecurity now? If so, read on to find out about the best practices you can implement that will protect your data, as well as the data of your customers.
Train your employees
Training your employees about cybersecurity should be one of your highest priorities. Employees should be trained to at least be able to make independent decisions that will prevent data disasters.
Your employees need to be aware of all the different data protection procedures that you are implementing. Your data security documents are a must read. Every employee should know them by heart.
Employees are your last line of defense. So, it’s crucial for them to be able to tackle security challenges when they arise.
This is true whether you want to implement strategies on your own, or hire a professional external IT vendor to do it for you. In most cases, a quality IT services provider is enough to train your employees.
Use a firewall
A firewall is one of the first lines of defense against a cyberattack. Therefore, you need to provide a firewall for each computer that your employees use. Not just the computers at work, but also those at their homes.
This is because a lot of your employees will bring some of their work home. If their home setup lacks security, this can be an issue. Getting the firewall issue handled will go far in preventing data breach or a hacker attack.
Install an anti-malware solution
Consider this scary fact: according to a Verizon 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, 30% of employees in the USA opened phishing emails. The situation in Australia is most likely similar.
These phishing attacks can do some scary stuff. Often all it takes is that an employee clicks on a single link in a suspicious email, and the malware gets installed immediately.
So, it’s crucial to install anti-malware software on all devices. But, it’s also important to educate your employees to differentiate a legitimate email from an illegitimate one. It’s the best way to avoid clicking on suspicious email links.
Don’t forget about those wearable devices
Personal computers and laptops are only a small part of the versatile communications market. Fitness trackers, smart watches, smart bracelets and other wearable devices are also a liability if not used in a responsible way. Yet, very few business owners consider these when thinking about security.
Most of the smart devices have very bad security profiles. Your employees might connect some of these smart devices to the company’s WiFi and increase the potential risk of data breach.
When you create cybersecurity procedures and guidelines for your employees, make sure you don’t neglect these devices. Make your employees aware of the cybersecurity risks that go along with using wearables and other smart devices.
Urge them to frequently update those devices with the latest firmware versions, so that their security protocol is up-to-date.
Ensure good password hygiene
A massive amount of data gets lost each year due to weak password security practices.
It’s imperative that you require your employees to use strong and unique passwords for all their accounts. Such passwords aren’t fully impenetrable, but it’s the first step towards ensuring basic protection of your data.
Consider licensing password management software for your employees. Such software includes tools to easily generate strong random passwords. It also remembers these passwords so your employees don’t have to. This is an easy way to encourage everyone to use complex passwords.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to encourage every employee to change these passwords on a timeline. Using complex passwords means they’re harder to breach, but not impossible.
A good rule of thumb is to change the passwords each 30 to 60 days. Again, having password management software helps as it can track how long it’s been since a password has been changed.
Cover all potential loopholes
Small businesses often leave the accounts of former employees intact. This has the potential of resulting in massive data breach.
Since small businesses do their business based on trust, they don’t see this as a potential risk. But, all it takes is one employee who still holds a grudge against your company to wreak havoc on your data.
Fortunately, this issue is super-easy to handle. Simply terminate the accounts of former employees the moment they stop working for you.
Perform regular data backups
Breaches of data can still occur even if you take all possible security precautions. This means that it’s wise to backup all documents, spreadsheets and financial files as well as all of your client data. And besides, getting hacked isn’t the only way to lose data. There are a variety of other disasters that may strike you despite your best efforts, so backing up your data is a must.
If you decide to do the backup in a physical location, make sure that it is done in a safe place that isn’t prone to natural disasters such as a fire or a flood. If you decide to utilise a cloud-based-solution make sure you pick the right one.
And to learn more about the difference between on-premise and cloud-based backups, read our article on the subject. Alternatively, if you want to get it done quickly, just contact us, we’re here to help. The InspiredTechs team will craft the best backup strategy for your business in no time.
Utilise multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication simply means that a user needs to get multiple factors right in order to log in. Using just a password to log in is a single factor. If the user is required to enter a password and answer a secret question as well, it would be considered two-factor authentication, or 2FA.
There are multiple ways to implement 2FA in your business. The most popular one is to simply utilise SMS verification. Whenever the user tries to log into an account, they receive an SMS with a unique verification code. Then, they need to enter this code to confirm their identity.
In practical terms, this means that a hacker wouldn’t get far simply by obtaining an employee’s password. Even if that happens, the hacker won’t be able to authorise the account without having physical access to the mobile device of this employee.
Partner with external consultants
Making sure that all of your employees are aware of all potential security risks and know to handle them is an absolute must. In the end, they are the gate-keepers of your data. Even if just one of your employees makes a serious mistake, you can face a massive loss of data. This is why developing a security strategy and training your employees is a must.
However, the work doesn’t stop there. You also have to implement your security strategy. And then, you have to continually test your security and make regular risk assessments that enable you to improve it and keep it up to date.
Even if you become an expert in cybersecurity, maintaining and implementing a well-rounded data security strategy is a full-time job.
This is why so many businesses are deciding to outsource security to outside consultants. After all, when you have legal issues, you turn to the lawyers. Treat the security of your data with the same level of importance and specificity.
The InspiredTechs team will work diligently to minimise the liability you have associated with data loss in a cost-effective way.
Data security requires an ongoing, organised process to protect and keep your data secure. Our team of professionals will train your staff to ensure they prevent data disasters from happening in the first place. But, they will also train your employees to independently manage a data crisis when and if it happens.
Just like technology itself is evolving and improving continually, so are cyber-criminals and their methods. This is why maintaining a peak security profile is a never-ending process. One that involves continual learning, optimisation, and adjustments.
Let the professionals who do this for a living handle it for you, and enjoy the extra time and energy you get. This will allow you to better focus on the core of your business. Security should be something that you don’t even think about. It should be a given. And when you partner with a security expert, this is the kind of peace of mind that you get.