- May 17, 2021
Small Business Cybersecurity Guide: 10 Tips for Success
There was a time when small business cybersecurity meant installing anti-virus software on a couple of computers. Those days are long gone. Today’s business owners must do a lot more to secure confidential information and valuable customer data from sneaky cyberattacks.
As a small business owner, it’s easy to develop a false sense of security. Cybercriminals don’t have a ‘type.’ Hackers will access any company’s network to steal valuable data like credit card information and customer ID numbers. According to the Verizon 2020 Data Breach Incident Response report, 28% of data breaches involve small businesses.
That’s a sobering statistic, but there’s good news. Protecting your business from attacks doesn’t have to be complicated.
This small business cybersecurity guide provides practical strategies to secure your networks and confidential information. Here are ten great ways to improve your cybersecurity:
1. Know the Risks
The first step toward excellent cybersecurity is understanding the risks. Create a list of all of your valuable data. Consider things like customer data, payment information, and trade secrets. Note where the data is stored, who has access, and how it’s protected. Think through the effects of losing each kind of data. This will help you figure out where to focus your cybersecurity efforts.
2. Protect Your Network
Your network has all of the valuable information that cyber criminals want. Keep your network secure by building a properly configured firewall. Also, now that most employees are working from home make sure that your team can access your network securely. One of the best ways is to provide your employees with a virtual private network connection.
3. Secure Your Devices
Hacking your company devices to access network data is another common attack. Make sure your cybersecurity management plan includes securing mobile devices and office equipment.
We recommend using mobile device management (MDM) tools. These keep network-connected devices compliant with your password policy. They also update all company and employee devices with the latest security fixes.
Secure office equipment by replacing default passwords with stronger ones. Default settings are often public, making devices easier to hack.
4. Invest in Security Software
Good security software, including anti-malware and content scanning tools, is an essential part of small business cybersecurity. Install the software on all machines on your network and set it to scan regularly.
Keep it updated to the latest version, and pay attention to scan results. That way, you can spot problems quickly and mitigate potential breaches.
5. Follow Updates and Enable Security Features
Cyberattacks succeed when criminals exploit vulnerabilities. Many of these are due to outdated software and improperly configured security features. Most updates contain security patches, but they must be manually installed.
Similarly, office productivity applications like Microsoft 365 have built-in security features that must be enabled. Only then can you reap the protection benefits.
6. Get Serious About Passwords and MFA
Strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are not cybersecurity cure-alls. Still, they’ll go a long way toward protecting you against attacks. Create and enforce a strong password policy by avoiding common dictionary words and setting a minimum length. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a good guide to digital authentication here.
Many business email products and productivity suites have built-in MFA. Ensure that these features are enabled and use smartphone authenticator apps rather than SMS authentication where possible.
7. Develop and Document an Official Strategy
Without a documented strategy, you’ll likely leave gaps in your cybersecurity coverage. Develop a plan covering sensitive information, password and device policies, and internet use best practices. Be sure to include a policy around reporting issues. Once you have a strategy, clearly communicate your expectations to employees.
8. Train Your Employees
Credential theft, successful phishing, and user error cause 67% of data breaches. Thus, employee cybersecurity training is well worth the effort. Ensure that they can recognize suspicious emails, malicious attachments, and dangerous links. Follow up this training with regular exercises such as fake phishing texts with expert third-party service providers.
9. Back Up and Encrypt Your Data
Protect your data against theft and recover it quickly through backups and encryption. All important data, including data stored in a cloud, must be backed up to a secure location. That will enable you to restore clean versions of your files in the event of a breach, quickly getting your business up and running again.
10. Get Perspective
You don’t do your renovations or car maintenance. Why manage your cybersecurity without the help of professionals? A cybersecurity expert can evaluate your system and test your defenses. They can then help develop a plan that’s right for you.
Ready to get secure?
Cybersecurity threats are real, as are the damages caused by successful attacks. The 2020 Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report put the mean cost of a data breach at USD $57,000. Take action to protect your business’s networks and data.