Small businesses often don’t worry about being hacked; it is something that is meant for the tech giants such as Yahoo to tackle, says the general perception. Unfortunately, small businesses are almost as vulnerable to cyberattacks as any behemoth out there. In fact, 43% of the cyberattacks target small businesses. It is just that they often don’t make it to the headlines.
Small businesses focus more on revenue generation and ignore the fact that security is one of their weak areas that can be easily taken advantage of. Sometimes it is merely out of ignorance and sometimes it is because of lack of budget to set up sufficient security measures or keep trained personnel.
If you are an entrepreneur and have a small business, here are some simple security tips you can implement to make sure you stay safe from the hackers:
Table of Contents
- Get The Basics Right
- Filter Emails
- Install Firewalls
- Enforce A Strict Password Policy
- Multifactor Identification
- Encrypt Data
- Create Backups
- Invest In Cyber Insurance
- Install Anti-malware
- Educate Your Employes
- Bonus Tip
- Protect Your Company
1. Get the basics right
Smaller firms usually struggle with IT related issues. Sometimes the internet stops working or the computer crashes down. If you have to function smoothly, you need to get your basics right. Make sure you have proper infrastructure, including reliable, high speed internet, and computers with updated antivirus installed.
Once your basic structure is in place, identify your security needs and your most important data. Then discuss what measures you already have in place and which ones must be taken immediately. The first thing you need to do is restrict physical access to your hardware. Install camera surveillance and monitor entries into your office too. Make sure all your hardware is accounted for and keep all the routers locked. If you can afford, hire an IT professional to take care of all your cybersecurity needs.
2. Filter emails
Most viruses are sent through emails hence you should be very careful when you open emails. Although, there is no way to exactly determine if an email is legitimate or not, there are certain red flags you should be aware of.
If you get an email from a user that you don’t recognize, scrutinize it carefully before you open it. If an email asks you to click on a link, don’t immediately click on it because it might not take you to the website it claims. Hover your cursor on the link and it might open a preview at the bottom. Also, check for any misspellings or grammatical errors, especially if the email sent to you is from a bank.
3. Install firewalls
Firewall is the basic defense you can use to protect your network from external threats. They act as filters between your network and the internet. You can configure firewalls and setup almost any rule according to your business needs. There are different types of firewalls available in the market with different mechanisms. In packet filtering, it identifies all sorts of traffic by evaluating the IP addresses and allows or blocks them. A proxy server, on the other hand, hides your IP addresses, making them difficult to hack. Certain firewalls also come with application gateway, which determines whether or not a connection should be allowed.
4. Enforce a strict password policy
Maintaining security of the organization is not just a task for the IT personnel, other employees are equally responsible. Hence, you should define and enforce a strict password policy. In today’s world, where hackers are just getting smarter, it is critical to take all possible measures. In his article, “Cybersecurity: A Small Business Guide,” Bill Carey, vice president of marketing and business development at Siber Systems, says passwords should have an Uppercase, lowercase, and a number. Also, you need to change passwords every 60 days.
5. Multifactor identification
No matter how strict your policies are, someone is bound to make a mistake that can leave your network or data vulnerable to hackers. Moreover, passwords are not enough for protection since they do not provide an identity check. Anyone with a password can log on to your device. Even if they don’t have the password, most passwords are not strong enough for experienced hackers to break in. Hence, you should add multi factor identification to provide for an additional security layer.
6. Encrypt data
Protect your sensitive data such as your financials or information about customers. Encryption restricts access to data without password. Some software even destroy the data when someone tries to gain unauthorized access. There are various free tools in the market you can use to easily encrypt your data. If you use your phone for business as well, then you need to take the right security measures to protect phone data too.
7. Create backups
Most small and medium businesses do not have any data backup and disaster recovery strategies in place probably because they do not realize its importance. A backup plan is essential because it protects your company from any sort of unforeseen circumstances including natural disasters and hacking issues. Cyberattacks often come in the form of ransomware, where the hackers block access to data until you pay a hefty amount. If you backup, you will be up and running in no time.
You can easily backup your data on cloud, which is cheaper and easily accessible as well. However, do consider backing it up in some other hardware since your cloud can be hacked too.
8. Invest in cyber insurance
You can put up all the security measures in place, but the hackers work tirelessly to get access, which is why even the large tech giants are always at risk and often make their way to the headlines. Hence, it is recommended that you invest in cyber insurance as it will help you mitigate any losses you may incur due to mishaps.
9. Install anti-malware
Malware refers to any program that has been created with the intent to cause harm. Most threats go undetected until they become quite extensive and cause damage. Anti-malware is the bare minimum a business can have to protect its data. Make sure to get an anti-malware that covers all types of malware. Different malware include viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, malvertising and adware.
10. Educate your employees
Most breaches occur due to human error, which is why everyone needs basic know how about protecting their data and network. Moreover, security is everybody’s responsibility hence you should train your employees on basic security measures and remedies. You need to explain it to them that even though you are trying your best to protect the company, any weak link will make it vulnerable and open to threats.
11. Bonus tip
Here are 10 best security tools you can use to protect your company:
- Cisco firewall
- Avira free security suite (anti-malware software)
- Veracrypt (data encryption software)
- Cobian Backup
- Burp Suite
12. Protect your company / Wrapping Up
Being an entrepreneur you have to fight on various fronts. You have to prevent your business from fraudulent practices in the real world as well as the virtual. Entrepreneurs often discard the threat of cyber security. They believe it will never translate into reality for them because they are not industry giants. But hackers don’t spare anyone whether big or small; if they find a vulnerability they will take advantage of it. So it would be better to be safe than sorry. Basic security measures are essential. Even if you cannot afford a full-time person to take care of your IT needs, you can take the measures yourself.