Cyber-criminals are constantly hungry for valuable personal data. They can infiltrate databases and steal sensitive information, like customer details, employee records, credit card numbers, corporate secrets, and software codes. This can be damaging for businesses of any size, but for small organizations, in particular, it could be catastrophic.
The UK Government’s Cyber Breaches Survey 2019 has revealed that 31% of small businesses were targeted by cyber-criminals last year, which demonstrates the breadth of the problem.
You might think that ensuring your business is secure will cost the earth, but, in fact, there are many inexpensive ways to improve your existing infrastructure.
Northdoor, an IT consultancy specializing in data security, IBM Power9 storage, and cloud computing discusses how your small business can prevent cyber-attacks, without spending a single penny.
Create Better Passwords
One of the simplest ways to strengthen your digital security is by crafting strong passwords. Business owners may be surprised to discover that a vast number of their employees are using weak, easy-to-remember passwords like “12345” or their date of birth, which puts their company at risk and allows a would-be hacker to steal sensitive information successfully.
A strong password should, ideally, be at least 8 characters long and include a mixture of both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Moreover, if employees have various accounts and platforms to log into, their passwords should vary between them.
An even more effective way of organizing work passwords is to use a free password manager, which can safely collect, organize, and store all log-in details. Many of these tools also have a function built-in that can grant specific viewing access to certain people within the organization, adding an extra layer of security.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Another indispensable way to increase your organization’s defenses is to turn on two-factor authentication, which requires a back-up phone number or, more recently, fingerprint ID or facial recognition to attain account access. This means that even when someone gains access to your password, the two-factor authentication process can slow down or prevent an attack from occurring.
The account holder is notified when a suspicious user is trying to break into the database, and they must verify their identity before they can proceed. As such, a two-factor authentication acts as the first line of defense, making it harder for hackers to get ahold of important information.
When thinking about business security, the physical aspect is often overlooked. However, something as simple as leaving a computer or laptop unattended in the office or a public space leaves you vulnerable to potential malicious activity.
If you work in a busy setting, such as a co-working space or public library, it is essential to lock your computer and sign out of everything whenever you leave the space unattended, especially if the device contains sensitive information.
Additionally, shredding important company documents before you throw them away is vital.
Contrary to popular belief, attacks do not always come from outsiders. In fact, a recent survey suggests that over half of recent threats came from inside the organization.
Since each one of your employees has a different rank and position, their role will require them to have access to different information. For example, an accountant shouldn’t need to exchange sensitive data with a salesperson.
As such, it is imperative to consider who has access to sensitive information within the company and the reasons for it. This will allow you to make the necessary access restrictions to protect your business.
In order to create a workplace culture that puts emphasis on data security, you must first train all staff on security best practices. Most of the time, employees aren’t educated or aware of how to identify and prevent malicious attacks, which makes your business incredibly vulnerable.
Consequently, it is crucial to create a company-wide cyber-security policy that contains best practices and protocols that employees must follow if a breach does occur, as well as all the steps they should take to prevent them. Employees must be aware of their individual responsibilities and the risks that could transpire as a result of their carelessness.
For instance, encouraging staff not to click on suspicious emails and links, but instead, forwarding them to the IT department if they do receive them, could form part of the policy. Likewise, a section on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) would be wise if employees regularly use their personal mobile devices for work purposes.
There are many reputable antivirus software tools that are free to download. Such software is designed to strengthen your online security by detecting and removing malicious threats like viruses, Trojan horses, worms, and adware any device.
It is important to note, however, that some dishonest antivirus vendors claim to be genuine when they are not, which means that numerous organizations fall into their trap and end up getting scammed. For that reason, always thoroughly research the software you intend to use before installing it on any device.