Big companies are not the only victims of hackers and data breaches. Contrary to what most business owners think, small businesses are sitting ducks for cyber-attacks as well. Just because it’s not always in the headlines, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t affect micro businesses, too. Some business owners often think that “It only happens to big businesses, so it will not happen to us.” However, this type of thinking will definitely bring more harm than good to your company.
Micro businesses are not immune to cyber-attacks. There are a number of reasons why small companies are vulnerable to hacking and breaches, such as:
- Your customers’ payment information is a gold mine for hackers
- Hackers can also steal valuable intellectual property
- Sensitive client information that can be used for data theft
- Financial transactions
- And many more
Knowing these risks and the disastrous effects that they might bring to your business and customers, it’s only right to find ways to mitigate them. However, unlike bigger businesses, most micro companies don’t have the luxury or budget to ramp up their cybersecurity. For this reason, they become easy pickings for hackers. Thankfully, there are ways small businesses can protect themselves against security threats! Here are some:
Ways You Can Protect Your Business from Hackers
Always have backups
There are hackers who use malware that will prevent you from accessing your own system. Healthcare businesses have been the primary targets of these hackers nowadays, causing them to be locked out of their own systems. Situations like this are avoidable as long as you are well-prepared. Make it your company’s habit to always back up information so you can easily retrieve them in case of a cyber incident.
There are multiple methods to backup your data, such as:
- Daily incremental back-ups to a portable device or cloud storage
- End-of-week server back-ups
- Quarterly server back-ups
- Yearly server back-ups
Have a secure device and network
Are your devices and network secure and breach-proof? Do a double-check and see if they comply with the following:
- Up-to-date software
Software updates may contain security upgrades, such as fixing security flaws and mitigations against recent cyber attacks. So, see to it that your operating system and security software are updated.
- Spams are filtered
Phishing or spam emails are common occurrences in both small and big businesses. You don’t have to go through each of these to sort or delete them manually. Simply turn on your spam filters for less hassle and more convenience. This will also reduce the chances of accidentally clicking or opening a spam email.
- Up-to-date software
Ensure that information is encrypted
Lessen the risks of identity theft or tampering. Encrypting important information will turn data into secret codes before being stored or sent online. You may install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or through your router setting to turn on data encryption.
Using multi-factor authentication or MFA should be standard practice for all businesses. This security process requires at least two or more verification of your identity before you are given access to an account. This security tool adds another layer of security to make it difficult for hackers to have access to your important data.
Instead of using normal passwords, the use of passphrases is recommended to better protect your business from security threats. A good passphrase should be 14 characters long and is easy for humans to decipher but difficult for machines to crack. Passphrases must also contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. We advise you not to use the same passphrase for every account you have. It makes it easier for hackers to get a hold of your account. You may use a password manager that can help store your passphrases for you.
Step up your monitoring system
Closely monitor all the equipment and software your business use. Check if they are secure to avoid potential cyber-attacks in the future. See to it that you remove any important data from devices and software that are no longer in use. Remove past employees’ access and remind present employees to:
- Be extra careful about how they keep their devices
- Be wary of public wi-fi and the networks they connect to in general
- Careful not to transfer potential malware through USB sticks or hard drives
Guide employees through security policies
Having a well-written security policy for your business helps employees know their responsibilities, what you expect from them, and learn what is acceptable when they use, access, or share information or data, devices, emails, internet site, and more.
Train employees about cybersecurity and how to safely navigate online
If your budget and resources will allow, train your staff about cybersecurity and how to avoid cyber attacks. That way, they will be ready to appropriately respond should they encounter cyber threats. Key points or topics you should focus on in the training are the following:
- Creating strong passwords
- Identifying cyber-attacks or threats
- Things they should do when encountering a cyber attack
- How to report a cyber threat
Get a cybersecurity insurance
You’ll never know when your business might get targeted by cyber attacks and hackers. So, to be fully prepared, get cybersecurity insurance. This will help cover the costs you will have to pay to deal with a potential cyber attack. If you suffer from a cyber-attack, you will need to have your databases repaired, strengthen your cybersecurity, and replace devices or software.
Get a reliable cybersecurity adviser
Of course, you will also need the help of experts in the field. A piece of professional advice is always preferable and better than just manually researching cybersecurity tips on the web. When choosing a cybersecurity adviser, refer to the following tips:
- Identify security needs and what your adviser should help you out with
- Match your business to a relevant adviser
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions
- See to it that your adviser fully understands your business
- Ask about their contingency plans should something go wrong
Make use of a scanning tool
To be updated on your potential vulnerabilities in cybersecurity, invest in an automated scanning software that will help your business identify threats and regularly scan your network, servers, and applications. This will give business owners an idea of what they should improve on and the actions they need to take to increase their business’ cybersecurity.
Tools That Will Help Protect Your Business from Cyber Threats
Today’s hackers are getting creative with their cyber attacks. In response, businesses, especially micro-managed ones, should put in place a multi-layered security approach to prevent breaches and other cyber threats.
There are many tools out there that can help you out. Some of them are:
- Web application firewall
- Content delivery network (CDN)
- Intrusion detection system
- Log manager system
- Vulnerability scanning assessment
- Weak password detection
- Security reporting dashboards
- Data breach monitoring
Both big and micro-companies have fallen victims to security threats. Stepping up your cybersecurity as early as now no matter how big or small your business is will be the best course of action to take to prevent future threats in your cybersecurity.
How to Create a Cybersecurity Policy for Your Business
If you haven’t set up a cybersecurity policy for your company yet, then you are leaving your business vulnerable and open to cyber attacks. If you have employees working for your company, having a cybersecurity policy will help guide them about their responsibilities to keep your business safe.
Generally, a cybersecurity policy will include guides on the allowable devices and online materials employees can use, the type of data and information they can share, and how to handle sensitive information as well as the proper way to store them. When creating one for your business, also ensure that it will include key topics, such as:
- Information and technology assets that you need to protect
- Possible threats
- How to protect these assets and rules employees should follow
Below, we have outlined some key points and the steps you need to take when building a cybersecurity policy.
It should explain password requirements
- How often should you change your password?
- What are the ways to properly store your passwords?
- How to create strong passwords?
- Why is it important to have a unique password?
It should outline email security measures
- Identifying phishing or suspicion emails
- Blocking or deleting spam emails
- When to share your work email address
- Filtering emails
It should discuss how to handle sensitive information
- When it’s appropriate to share sensitive information
- Where and how to store sensitive data
- Identifying sensitive data
- Getting rid of sensitive information when it’s no longer needed
It should provide sets of rules for social media and online access
- What business information is appropriate to share
- Social media channels that they are allowed to access during working hours
It should detail how to deal with a cyber attack
- Proper actions they should take
- Roles and responsibilities
- How to appropriately respond
Ensure that it’s up-to-date
Stay updated with current threats and malware used by hackers and other recent cybersecurity information. This way, you can update your cybersecurity policy should the need arises.
Here’s How Your Small Business Can Benefit from Increased Cybersecurity
Having the right network security in place will not only reduce your chances of being a victim of cyber attacks but puts your mind at ease as well.
Cybersecurity is also continuously evolving as hackers get creative with their security threats. So, as a business owner, you will need to commit to regularly updating your cybersecurity.
Having good and strong network security is substantial for your business in a lot of ways. Some of its advantages include:
- It protects your business from external attacks
External threats may include brute force password hacks, phishing, and malware. These are easily avoidable when you put an appropriate security measure in place.
- It protects your business from internal attacks
Around 30% of cyber attacks come from internal factors. This may be because of a lack of employee training about cybersecurity.
- Ensures that your business is compliant
Improving your cybersecurity ensures that your security protection is in line with the regulations in place in certain industries or places.
- It protects personal information
Identity theft is a commonplace security threat lately. If hackers get their hands on your customer’s or employee’s personal information, it will be a big problem for your business.
- Prevents your website from shutting down
Once websites get infected with malware, it may force them to shut down. Not only will you have missed business transactions but you will likely lose your client’s trust as well.
- Prevents Adware
Adware is a virus that will fill your computer with advertisements. These advertisements may allow other viruses to your computer when you accidentally click on them.
Stop Attacks Before They Could Even Start
As more and more small businesses get targeted by these security threats, your business doesn’t have to be among them. Improving cybersecurity is a must for micro-managed companies. Many business owners have been victims of cyber threats due to the lack of protection from these cyber attacks. As early as now, protect data and information from being breached, identity theft, and other security threats. Regardless of your company’s size, every business is at risk of cyber-attacks and data thieves. So, you should invest and partner with a smart cybersecurity firm that can mitigate these threats and increase your company’s protection from cyber attacks.
Talk with Proweaver Today!
The digital landscape can be difficult to navigate for startup businesses. If you need help to safely establish your online reputation, Proweaver has the digital services you need to do that and more. Give us a call at +1 (949) 242-9506 and our representatives will guide you through the process as hassle-free as possible!