Technology advancements in the twenty-first century have almost compelled small business to conduct the majority of their operations online. The theft of sensitive customer data poses a risk to both customers and the company’s employees. Not only is this data in danger, but the organization also runs the risk of losing the data’s availability, confidentiality, and integrity. Keeping this in mind many big firms have already started giving cybersecurity their first priority. So, why should small business lie behind? And, Why is small business cybersecurity important and how can we manage it?
Don’t get worked up! Here, in this article, we will provide you with some in-depth tips for your small business cyber security.
What is Cyber Security? (Small Business)
Many people find cybersecurity to be similar to information security. But it’s not! Cybersecurity and information security are two completely different terms. As, one is mainly focused on protecting the computer from unauthorized access or being damaged, whereas the other is a vast concept that includes the protection of all types of information whether hard or digital.
In Layman’s terms, Cybersecurity refers to the use of technology, procedures, and controls which is used to defend against cyberattacks on systems, networks, programs, and devices. It mainly aims to lower the danger of cyberattacks and safeguard against the unauthorized use of technology, networks, and systems.
Why Should Small Business Focus on Cyber Security?
Due to the pandemic, Cybercrimes have increased at the rate of 600% worldwide, and most of this happens in small businesses. Data given by a popular website, Strongdm.com states that 61% of small business were the target of cyberattacks in 2021. This has significantly impacted the sales of small businesses which saw a decline of $105K in 2021. This has increased by 4% from the previous year’s loss which was $101K for 2020.
If you are still unclear about the need for cybersecurity for small businesses then you need to go through the following benefits of cybersecurity for small businesses:
- Protects your new innovations and ideas
- Protects you against data breaches, phishing scams, and ransomware
- Ensures your organization’s financial position
- Helps you avoid potential penalties and fines
10 Cyber Security Tips For Small Business
People who have just started their small business are unknown of the consequences of bad cybersecurity. As most of the targets of cybercrime is a small business it is important to take into account the necessary steps for your cybersecurity.
To put you at ease, here we have listed some tips to help you with your small business cybersecurity:
1. Use Firewalls
The literal meaning of firewalls is the fire-resistant structure which is designed to restrict the spread of fire. And just like its literal meaning, a Firewall, in technological terms, is a network security device that monitors the traffic (outgoing and ingoing) and blocks the data based on the security rules whenever needed. Similarly, the use of Firewalls protects you from the attack of unsecured and suspicious sources.
Imagine a house where only doctors are allowed to enter. And at the entrance stands a person who is supposed to filter the people coming making sure only doctors are entering the house. Imagine him as a firewall and the house as your computer.
The work is the same, just like how the person is filtering doctors from a bunch of people so that other people won’t enter, firewalls also filter the information coming to your device so that your data won’t get hacked and pirated. That’s why this is very important for small businesses.
2. Backup and Encrypt Everything
We often tend to ignore the fact that normal data are very easy to hack. So, to reduce the chances of hacking and unusual cyber theft, backing up and encrypting every piece of data is one of the ABCs of cybersecurity. Doesn’t matter if the business is large or small, every business should encrypt its data so that it won’t be easier for any hackers to access it.
Likewise, Conducting regular backups helps you to minimize the potential data loss. As, whenever any cyber breach happens there is a high chance that some of your data are lost.
The idea of backup is to create a copy of your data so that it can be recovered in the event of any failure. It does not necessarily need to be a cybercrime, it can be any hardware failure, software failure, or human-caused or natural event. So, it’s better to be prepared first right?
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3. Protection against viruses
As many small businesses are done online these days, all the transitions are done online. Your every transition detail, customer details, bank account details, and other financial records are stored on your computer. And thieves out there know this too.
Scammers and other fraudsters could be able to access your devices and take your personal details if they are not secured. Your computer could be used by spammers to send messages that appear to have been sent by you. Your computer could acquire malicious viruses or spyware that would slow it down or delete files.
So, don’t be a fool and protect your computer from viruses. Install anti-viruses and seriously… be serious about your online activities.
4. Use strong passwords
101 of cybersecurity for starter small businesses is using strong passwords. But remember, not only you as an owner but your employees also need to use strong passwords on all of their devices that contain sensitive information.
The fight against cyber risks demands the use of strong passwords that are difficult to guess, 20 characters in length, and include numbers, letters, and symbols. A brute-force attack is less likely to succeed the harder the password to crack is. Small business should implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) to their employees’ devices and apps as additional security protection.
Similarly, There are programs for managing and preserving passwords called “password keepers” that not only keep track of passwords but also set reminders for when updates are required.
Also, besides using programs for managing and preserving your passwords, you yourself can do it by following the following steps to make your password stronger:
- Keep your passwords at least 8 characters long
- Use alphanumeric characters in your password
- Make sure your password does not contain any sensitive and personal information
- Use easy to remember the password so that you won’t forget it
- It is better to not use any spelled words
5. Prioritize your device
Wait! Prioritizing your device means keeping your device for professional use and private use separate. Limit the access of employees to the office computers so that there is no possibility of data breach among the employees as well. Why take risks right? No one can be trusted with the company’s data.
You can also train your employees about this matter. It is not enough for only you to be aware of the effects of bad cybersecurity. Everyone should be made aware of the necessary consequences when this is neglected. Set clearly defined rules to follow for best cybersecurity practice.
Make sure they are not mixing their personal matter in your professional work and professional data in their private devices. The same goes for you too.
6. Use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
What can VPNs do? Aren’t they only for watching Netflix and movies? No! THEY’RE NOT!
The use and advantage of using VPNs are not limited to only watching movies and series. VPNs, Virtual Private Networks, can seriously help you in managing your small business cybersecurity. In addition, They help you encrypt your data and secure browser histories.
Use this once and the thefts and hackers trying to steal your data are actually going to get a hard time stealing it. VPNs like PureVPN, NordVPN, and ProtonVPN, create a barrier for hackers attempting to steal data in motion.
Therefore, if you’re using a VPN, you need not be concerned about malevolent individuals intercepting their data when they connect to a public wifi hotspot in your area.
7. Secure wi-fi networks
This is often a neglected aspect of small business cybersecurity. Make sure your office’s Wi-Fi network is hidden, encrypted, and secure if you have one. Set up the wireless access point or router so that it does not advertise the network address, sometimes referred to as the Service Set Identifier, in order to conceal your Wi-Fi network (SSID). Secure router access with a password.
Also, don’t even think of using public wi-fi networks. A public Wi-Fi network frequently transmits data without encryption. When a hacker intercepts the data being sent between your device and the Wi-Fi network, it is known as a man-in-the-middle assault.
This leaves you susceptible to identity theft and fraud since it makes it feasible to collect private information, including passwords or credit card numbers.
So, you should use only secured networks for your business work. Not only for business works, but it also applies to your personal use as well.
8. Use two-step verification for logins and approvals
Only using a strong password is not enough for the necessary risk management for small businesses. Along with a perfect strong uncrackable password, you should consider using two-step verification for logins and approvals for your small business cybersecurity.
Why? Many security experts say that using two-step verification is one of the best ways to protect your account from even the most advanced and sophisticated hackers. If you think this is hectic as it consumes time. No guys… Trust me. It is a matter of some seconds.
Even if you have a very strong password, taking the technologies into account hacking your single is not a big deal for those hackers out there. Using this technique not only helps you double-check your employee identity but also protects against unauthorized access to user accounts.
9. Use the latest up-to-date software
Ok. Keeping your software up-to-date is the easiest thing on the list but is often neglected.
You must ensure that all of your company’s PCs, laptops, tablets, phones, and other gadgets are kept up to date. Additionally, you must make sure that you monitor the software as well as any security holes that may have been discovered in it.
When used, the updated software and browsers alert you about risky websites. When developed first, all programs come with flaws in them. To control and minimize such flaws, system updates are very essential.
When your system is no longer updated, hackers and thieves can easily know and exploit the vulnerabilities of your business’s system.
So, make sure the system you and your employees are using is updated timely.
10. Limit access to all sensitive data
Effective cybersecurity in your small business starts with limiting access to all sensitive data. Identifying the information and who has access to it should be at the top of your priority list for maintaining cybersecurity.
Similarly, restricting access to your sensitive data reduces the risks of potential data attacks and other malpractices.
Imagine if everyone in your company has access to the data then how much easier it will be for the hackers to steal one employee’s credentials and get access to the whole server? You don’t want this right?
So, try limiting access to your company’s data to reduce any upcoming risks ahead.
Today, Data is a WEAPON. It truly is. Anyone who has data is more powerful than anyone with a truck full of arms. We people are so into this internet world, that we forget that the trackers are keeping track of our every step. They know what we like and what we watch. Where we keep our information and way to access it too. So, if we want to be one step ahead of them, it is important to take all the tips above given for the cybersecurity of our small business into account seriously.
According to research done by Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime costs will reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. This is huge. So, from today we should be serious about cybersecurity even if the business is small before it’s too late.
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