Many small business owners neglect cybersecurity because they believe that their size doesn’t make them interesting to cybercriminals, but they are mistaken. While attacking large companies could be more lucrative, it also demands more investment of time and money on their part, while smaller businesses’ virtually non-existent protection makes them an easy target and almost effortless pursuit.
These kinds of attacks punch a hole in your business bank account as well as your reputation, which is something even the biggest names in the business cannot afford. However, through regular education, alertness and implementing security measures, it is possible to provide adequate protection for your business. To help you ensure that, here are five tips to consider.
Update Your Software Regularly
Unless you are generally very attentive and highly organized, certain update alerts will go unnoticed on your personal computer or laptop. Now imagine different software solutions being used by many employees – such things are bound to happen, but you should be more careful because they can cause serious security issues.
It is easier for cybercriminals to hack older software versions because they had time to research the breach points which is why you need to pay attention to the updates. Also, in case your older hardware model doesn’t support software updates, you would need to consider replacing it so as to ensure the security of all your data since it’s not just your financial and operational data that are at risk but your clients’ personal data as well.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) serves as an extra layer of protection and it’s intended for confirming your identity. When logging in, besides a password, there is an additional step, that is, an additional strain of numbers that you need to enter, which is time-sensitive and unique (one-time password – OTP). The OTP can be sent as an SMS, to a (secondary) email address or it can be generated via a special device or an app you install on your smartphone.
Many employees are jittery about 2FA because they are frightened that they will make a mistake or that something might malfunction, and they won’t be able to access their accounts. However, they will soon start to see it as a necessary routine while you will ensure that email and different software tools they used cannot be easily penetrated.
Consider Secure Web Gateway
Human error is by far one of the biggest threats to cybersecurity. Since the employees can sometimes get lost in their daily tasks, just as they wouldn’t be able to recall that they left their coffee mug on somebody else’s table, they would also forget that they need to update their password or to check the attachment before downloading and opening it.
Since most times they are unaware of the damage they caused or that they might have caused, implementing a secure web gateway could be the optimal security solution for your needs. Some companies offer quite comprehensive solutions that allow you to exert control over the websites your employees visit, what they download and upload through URL filters, application control, traffic control, information control, etc.
Consider Using VPN
The modern way of doing business demands you to be in different places and to use a plethora of devices to access the data related to a project you are working on or some financial record. You may need to access your business files over public or unsecured networks so it is best to use VPN and to make sure your IP address is masked and your data is encrypted.
Although establishing personal VPNs may not be the best solution for small businesses, you can still protect your and your employees’ passwords and browsing history from potential hacker attacks by working with a VPN service provider. Also, you need to be careful about free VPNs because even though they may seem like a good idea for a small business that are on a budget, they are unsafe.
Educate Your Employees
As mentioned, human error poses a great threat to any business’s cybersecurity so, in addition to implementing a secure web gateway, it is essential to educate your employees so that they are more aware of how they access different software tools and perform web searches at work. The best approach would encompass creating a clear set of rules for your employees to follow as well as providing them with education in that field.
For instance, phishing scams have become so skillfully concocted that you need to teach your employees to double-check every link from the emails they receive. Imagine receiving an alarming-looking email notifying you that somebody has just logged into one of your accounts. The email has the right colors and font, and everything seems legitimate and once you click on the link and type in your data to log into that account, the hackers have everything they need to access it.
The most important element in ensuring the network security of your business is to change the routine until vigilance becomes the new routine of you and every employee. When it comes to security, no amount of second-guessing and double-checking is excessive, and this is something you need to instill with your employees so that you can achieve an optimal level of protection for your business.