When you think about cyber attacks, many people automatically think about big data breaches on big corporations, such as the Yahoo and Equifax attacks. We often forget that small businesses are vulnerable – often more vulnerable than these large corporations.
In fact, most studies show that attacks on small businesses accounted for anywhere between 40% – 70% of all cyber crime in the last few years. As cyber crime continues to rise, it’s important for small businesses to protect themselves, their employees, and their customers from leaks, breaches, and attacks.
Why Are Small Businesses At Risk?
We know that small businesses are often the target of cyber crime – but why? Small businesses often do not have the same resources as large corporations, so shouldn’t that deter hackers and cyber criminals? Unfortunately, lack of resources is exactly why small businesses are targeted.
In many cases, small businesses simply do not have the budget or cybersecurity awareness and training to properly protect against attacks. Outdated computers and software, lack of employee training, and lack of cybersecurity personnel can all create weaknesses that may be exploited.
The follow tips will help you keep your small business safer and reduce the risk of a cyber attack on your company.
Top Cybersecurity Tips To Protect Small Businesses
1. Limit Use of Business Computers
Sometimes, security breaches are the result of accidental or purposeful leaks by employees. In some cases, employees who lack training may accidentally access and misuse confidential information. In other cases, malicious employees may steal data on purposes. One study found that 59% of employees steal data when they quit or are fired!
2. Beware of Emails – And Ensure Employees Are Too
Emails are part of most businesses, both big and small. On average, office workers send out 40 emails per day – and receive nearly 100! With emails being such a normal part of office life, we often forget that emails can often pose a threat to security.
Emails are the #1 delivery method for malware, and unfortunately can have a high success rate. Often times, hackers have up to a 90% success rate with malware emails. It’s important that everyone in your business is aware of these potential threats, and that employees treat each email with care before opening it up.
3. Secure Your Wi-Fi Network
The FCC (Federal Communications Commision) recommends that businesses not only protect their Wi-Fi with passwords, but also encrypt and hide your network for increased security. When setting up your Wi-Fi, you can select an option to not publicly display your network’s name.
Once you have done this, only give out network information to your employees and others who need access. It is much harder for hackers to guess your Wi-Fi password if they cannot even find your Network to begin with!
4. Keep All Passwords Strong – And Change Them Frequently
Your Wi-Fi password at the office should also be as strong as possible. If you aren’t sure how to create a strong password, you can check out simple guides that provide tips and suggestions for making your password as strong as possible.
Although Wi-Fi passwords are important, they are not the only passwords you should think about! Passwords on business computers should be kept secure, and you should remind employees that their email passwords should follow similar guidelines to ensure they are strong. Encourage employees to change their passwords a few times per year, and change your Wi-Fi passwords every 30-90 days.
5. Create a Cybersecurity Program & Train Employees
For many employees, cybersecurity in the workplace is a relatively new concept. Ensuring your employees are properly trained on up-to-date security practices is one of the best ways to ensure confidential information remains confidential!
You may want to consider starting a cybersecurity training program that will make sure all employees are on the same page and have received the same level of training. Teach employees about good practices such as
- Changing their passwords regularly
- Backing up data and confidential information
- Not sharing Wi-Fi passwords or other passwords
- Not sharing network names
- Installing anti-malware programs on their business & personal computers
- Use good cybersecurity practices on mobile phones
It may be necessary at first to hold multiple training sessions, put up posters, send out reminder notices, and even create a team of employees who work towards a more secure workplace to ensure these practices stick. It may seem like a lot at first, but your company’s security is worth it!
6. Use a Firewall
Firewalls are the “first lines of defense in a cyber-attack” – and they can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful hack. Ensure that all company computers have a firewall installed for added security.
However, It is not just important that your company computers have a firewall! Most employees have significant amounts of confidential information on their personal computers if they work from home or use their computer for work tasks. That’s why it’s important for employees to have a firewall installed even on their personal computers.
7. Backup Your Data
You have probably heard the saying “to the cloud!” but many business owners do not utilize this type of backup service. Storing in the cloud is one of the best ways to ensure your data does not get lost, and that you will always have access to your important files.
Even if you do not use the cloud, there are other ways to backup your data. You may choose to store your documents and records off-site at a records management facility. When working with a professional data management company, your documents will not only be secure, but also properly organized and easily accessible.
Keep Your Small Business Safe!
[GUEST POST by LAUREN F ]