5 Important Cyber Security Tips for Small Business Owners
In today’s always-connected online world, everyone’s a target.
Cyber-criminals will target anybody and everybody these days. From governments to top hotel chains, the bad guys will stop at nothing to sow discord and get rich in the process. However, there’s one group of targets that the news outlets fail to mention: small businesses.
Let’s take a quick look at some alarming statistics:
- 43% of all cyberattacks target small businesses.
- 71% of cyberattacks target businesses with less than 100 employees.
- 67% of small and medium-sized businesses reported a cyberattack in 2018, while 58% said they suffered a data breach.
- 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyberattack go out of business within six months.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of being a small fish in a big pond. Many small business owners think that because their companies are tiny, hackers would leave them alone. This notion is out-of-sync today because cybercriminals don’t care whether a business is massive or not. A target is a target. Plus, the bad guys know that most small businesses don’t have full-fledged IT security teams and robust security.
In this case, a criminal’s options would be:
- To attack a more prominent company with more personal and financial data but has tighter security measures or;
- To target a small business with fewer user data, but is easier to breach.
If you’re a small business owner, please don’t be a statistic. Here are five cybersecurity tips to help your company defend against cyberattacks and data breaches.
Tip 1: Secure All Devices and Update their Software
Sometimes, all it takes is an unpatched security flaw for an attacker to gain access and wreak havoc on your system.
- Make a list of all devices that connect to the internet and your company network. Smartphones, desktop PCs, laptops, printers, and other IoT devices should be on the list.
- Go through each one to make sure all programs, apps, and the OS were recently updated. Patch all vulnerabilities as recommended by the device manufacturer.
- Make sure that every device is password protected. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) when available.
- Disable connections that you don’t need inside the office, such as Bluetooth.
- Secure your router.
Tip 2: Conduct Thorough Background Checks on New Employees and Suppliers
Data breaches are sometimes the result of an inside job or simple employee negligence.
- Before taking on a new contractor to work in your office or hiring a new staff member, it pays to do your due diligence.
- Most employee background checks can give you a clear picture of whom you’re going to be working with.
- Never leave log-in details lying around in the open.
Tip 3: Talk to Your Employees About Phishing Scams
There are also cases of employees being the targets of social manipulation and phishing scams. The criminal can gain access to the company network by either tricking the employee into giving log-in credentials or extortion.
- Talk to your staff about phishing scams. They may be targets of social hacking if they’re not careful.
- If you or your employees receive an email from an unknown sender, a reverse email search can reveal information if the person is real or not.
- Never click on links on an email body, especially from unknown sources.
- Never download files and programs from unsecured websites, such as Torrent sites and porn.
Tip 4: Use Strong and Unique Passwords
Cybercriminals can gain entry into a lost or stolen phone and laptop if the password is weak.
Please review all the passwords of company devices.
- Simple passwords like QWERTY and birthdays are super easy to bypass and not advisable.
- Never use the same password twice.
- Use a password generator or four unrelated words strung together with a few numbers thrown in.
- Make sure you write down all passwords on a piece of paper and keep it in a secure location, not on your phone.
Tip 5: Invest in Security Software
- Investing in robust security software can help defend against cyberattacks.
- Install an antivirus/anti-malware program on all your devices and scan everything (USBs, CDs) before opening.
- Keep your firewall on.
- Get a trusted VPN to keep all your connections secure.
- Keep your security software updated.
Avoid falling into the trap of thinking hackers won’t notice you. These tips can help protect your small business from cyberattacks and other threats when done right.