As a small business owner, you cannot afford to neglect the importance of cybersecurity best practices. Hackers often target small businesses because they tend to be more vulnerable than bigger brands. What’s more, over 60% of small businesses close within six months of an attack! A data breach could harm your business in several ways, costing you lost revenue and hurting your relationship with customers or clients. Protecting the reputation of your business starts with protecting your customer data. To help you carry out your responsibility to your customers, check out this small business cybersecurity guide from Techablaze!
Educate Yourself on Cybersecurity
The best way to protect your business from cyber threats is to educate yourself about essential cybersecurity practices. Learning about the threats that are out there and what you can do to avoid them is important. This will help you keep your business safe from common digital weapons like ransomware, botnets, and DDoS attacks. There are plenty of online resources that can help you learn what you need to know. However, the best way to sharpen your IT skills is to pursue formal education. Attending an online school is a great way to earn a master’s degree in IT without putting your business on hold! At school, you’ll learn everything you need to help your business thrive in the digital era.
Educate Your Employees on Cybersecurity
Beyond educating yourself, educate your employees as well. Your employees also have to know their way around cybersecurity best practices. Invest in regular employee training to keep your workers up to date with the latest advancements in cybersecurity. It’s also a good idea to incorporate cybersecurity training into your employee on boarding process. Make sure employees know how to avoid common security threats. Such as clicking phishing emails or logging into business accounts while connected to a public wi-fi network. When your employees have the tools to succeed, your business will thrive.
Establish Password Policies
Part of your employee training should involve an emphasis on the creation of strong passwords. A whopping 63% of data breaches result from lost, stolen, or weak passwords. Ensuring that you and your employees create strong passwords will encourage potential hackers to look for targets elsewhere. One important characteristic of a strong password is length, so try to keep all passwords at least 8 characters long. You also want to use a mix of uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers, and non-letter symbols.
Most importantly, be sure to create a unique password for each and every account you own. Feeling overwhelmed? Store your passwords in a secure password manager so you don’t have to worry about remembering all of them. This is much better than jotting your passwords down on post-it notes.
Enable Multi-Factor Identification
A strong password isn’t the only way to keep hackers out of your sensitive business accounts. Whenever possible, enable multi-factor authentication to make it even harder for potential cyber-criminals to gain access. As The Blueprint explains, multi-factor authentication is an extra level of security that applies on top of your username and password. There are a couple of different ways to do this, but one of the most common forms of multifactor authentication is using SMS tokens. After entering your username and password, you will receive an SMS text with a one-time code that you must input before gaining access to your account. Some other types include security questions, software tokens, and biometric authentication.
Use Anti-Malware Software
No matter how strong your passwords are, cybercriminals can still access sensitive data through network and device vulnerabilities. This is where anti-malware software comes in. An up-to-date anti-virus program will detect and prevent threats, including malware, phishing scams, and ransomware. Many antivirus programs also include built-in firewalls to prevent unauthorized connections from gaining access to your network. Firewalls identify suspicious activity and block access from potentially malicious users or programs. Most routers also include built-in firewalls, so make sure you enable and configure yours through your router’s settings.
Perform Regular Data Backups
If a hacker does find a way into your business, they may install malware that makes your data inaccessible. In this case, data backups could save the life of your business! Performing regular data backups is easy if you work with a hosting provider that manages everything for you. Look for hosting that includes regular, automatic backups and one-click file restoration so you can get your business back up and running as soon as possible after a breach or loss event. Although you may have to pay more for this service, the cost is well worth the added security!
Cybersecurity for Remote Workers
While enabling your employees to work remotely can benefit your business in numerous ways, it also opens you up to some additional cybersecurity concerns. When your employees work from home, you have very little control over the security of their networks. According to TechRepublic, 60% of businesses have seen an increase in cyberattacks since transitioning to remote work during the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve cybersecurity among your remote workers. Require that all employees use multifactor authentication to access business accounts, limit access to sensitive information based on employee roles and responsibilities, provide anti-malware software for personal devices, and ensure that your employees do not work on public networks—such as those in coffee shops or libraries.
Cybersecurity vulnerabilities can cost your business a lot of money—a bad attack could even spell the end of your business! Don’t let cybercriminals get the better of you. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to protect the data of your customers, so make sure you take every step necessary to avoid compromising their sensitive information.
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