Running a business nowadays is as challenging as ever. There are plenty of things requiring managers’ attention at any moment of any day, all of the utmost importance. Cybersecurity is one of them.
For too many organizations, cybersecurity is one of those issues hidden in plain sight; it’s only noticeable when something bad happens. And that can happen quite frequently.
In fact, cybersecurity attacks and breaches are more common in small businesses than in large corporations and bring more serious damage. According to a report by Keeper Security, more than half of small businesses could go bankrupt after being targeted by cybercriminals.
However, if the business has a solid foundation in place by adopting some standard security procedures and tools, then it can certainly take on those challenges in a proper manner.
8 Cybersecurity best practices to keep your small business safe online
Here are a few practices that will keep your small business protected against cyber threats:
Enforce usage of strong passwords
The first step in improving the security of your organization is to ensure the use of strong passwords across it. “123456”, “qwerty” or “password” do not cut it. A combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters, combined with a password manager is a better way to go.
By making sure all employees use strong and unique passwords on all user accounts, you’ll be able to protect your company from two of the most common attacks that exist in the world of cybercrime: brute force and guessing! How these attacks are made is a matter of another post; what’s important to remember is that cybersecurity starts with password security.
Use multi-factor authentication
Once you’ve put in place a strong password policy, multi-factor authentication is the next crucial step that you can take to protect your company from cybercrime. This mechanism adds a second (or even third, depending on how you set it up) layer of protection for your sensitive data besides the password and it should be enabled across your organization for every system where your sensitive data is stored.
Even if someone comes to know your password, they’ll still not be able to gain access to your business data unless they also obtain access to the second authentication method that you’ve enabled in the multi-factor authentication.
Install an SSL certificate
The security of every website starts with an SSL certificate. Without this essential element, your website will remain prone to hacking no matter how much you invest in its security. And it’s not just about your website; the data being sent by your visitors can also be stolen while it’s in transit if your website is not loading over HTTPS.
There are more than one type of SSL certificates, meeting different online security needs. A good starting point is to invest in a Comodo SSL certificate that protects your root domain as well as all its subdomains. Or, if you have multiple domains, then you can buy a different SSL certificate that protects all your domains and subdomains.
Use a good firewall
A firewall ensures that none of the programs running on any of your devices/systems are infected by any virus, malware, spyware, or any other kind of malicious program. If they are, it warns you in advance and blocks the malicious program from running.
It’s essential that you invest in a good firewall program for your small business because that single investment can go a long way in protecting your data and systems from hackers.
Keep an eye on privileged employees
Delegation is essential to run a business effectively. However, when you delegate the power to manage sensitive information to any of your employees, you also increase the risk of human errors.
It’s entirely possible that your privileged employees - those who have access to sensitive information - may make some mistake in managing their privileges, thus compromising the security of your systems. And in some cases, they may also do something wrong deliberately to harm your company for a variety of reasons.
So, you must pay special attention to your privileged employees, make sure they are aware of all cybersecurity risks and know how to avoid them.
Train your employees
Training your employees regarding cybersecurity is also essential. If they’re prepared with all security best practices, they’ll ensure that they don’t make any mistakes that are threatening to your business. Whether employees are working in your office or remotely, the same rules must be learned and applied.
A training program could include the importance of strong passwords, how to securely store those passwords, encryption, secure transfer of files, dealing with removable media storage devices, and other standard cybersecurity practices. It will reduce the chances of human error for the security of your business.
Keep everything up to date
A lot of times, we invite the trouble ourselves by not updating our apps, operating systems, and other types of software on time. Updates are usually rolled out to fix the loopholes that exist in our software, and to protect us from new security threats that emerge.
So, ensure that every single piece of software across your organization is updated on time. It’ll be better if you automate this thing because manually keeping track of updates and then installing them can be a cumbersome process.
Backup your data
Finally, don’t forget to regularly backup your data. Without regular backup, you won’t be able to quickly shut down and discard the compromised servers or systems in case of an attack because you won’t be having a copy of your data on another server.
That delay in shifting from one server to another may result in severe consequences for your business.
We would suggest that you automate your backups to ensure that they’re done on time. Several tools and plugins exist to help you with that.
So, these were the eight steps you can take to protect your small business from cybercrime. Each of them is essential for building a solid foundation of security for your business and need to be implemented properly. Stay safe!