Data breaches and ransomware attacks are not just a problem for large corporations and government agencies; small businesses can also be victims. Research findings reveal that 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses. Smaller organizations with between 1 to 250 employees also have the highest targeted malicious email rate at 1 in 323.
Fortunately, adequate computer security is within reach. Here are five cybersecurity tips that can be helpful for small business owners.
1. Train your employees
Irrespective of the level of protection your small business has in place, you have to ensure that your employees are on the same page when it comes to cybersecurity. The only way to do this is to train them.
Your training should cover such issues as:
- The importance of setting strong and hard to guess passwords
- How to spot suspicious email attachments and links
- The importance of keeping tight control over your devices
- Why your employees should ensure their work-related log in details are different from those on their personal accounts
What is more, you should ensure all your employees are clear on the exit procedures. A disgruntled ex-employee with an active account can cause serious damage to your business.
2. Adopt the least-privilege model
Adopting the least-privilege model means providing each employee with only the bare minimum access that they need to complete their duties effectively. Limiting the amount of information that a user can access minimizes the damage that the user can cause deliberately or accidentally. It also limits the reach of any malicious actor that might gain access to the user’s credentials.
Regularly conduct reviews to ensure that all access rights are up-to-date as your work environment and IT infrastructure evolves.
3. Establish and enforce a password policy
Most of the time, hackers are not the sophisticated masterminds they appear to be. Instead, they gather enough information from your social media accounts to help them guess your passwords, or use phishing emails to trick you into giving up your login details.
To ensure your business is protected from hacking, everyone from the CEO to entry-level employees needs to follow the same password security rules. This means that everyone has to set strong, hard to guess passwords. These passwords should contain a combination of lower case letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Additionally, passwords should be longer than six characters to avoid having them puzzled out by brute force. You should also avoid using the same passwords for multiple sites. Ensure that everyone in your business changes their passwords at least once every six months.
4. Only keep the data you need
A data breach is one of the biggest risks that your business faces. Not only could a data breach lead to regulatory action, but it could also lead to legal liability if a customer’s information falls into the hands of criminals.
One of the best ways to reduce the likelihood of a catastrophic data breach is to keep the minimum amount of customer data necessary. If you don’t need to keep a piece of information such as a customer’s social security or credit card number, don’t keep it.
As you dispose of old equipment and devices such as phones, computers, and flash drives, ensure they don’t contain any of your company information by using special software to wipe the information. Don’t settle for simple re-formatting when trying to wipe out data.
5. Use a VPN
A VPN (Virtual private network) reroutes your internet traffic and hides your IP address so that other people can’t tell your real IP address or location. A VPN also encrypts your traffic, making it impossible for hackers and other parties who might intercept your traffic to see what you are doing.
Although there are no guaranteed ways to ensure that your business data does not fall into the wrong hand, these cybersecurity tips will go a long way in protecting your business against hackers and other nefarious actors. As an addition, you might want to consider talking to a cybersecurity expert to help you manage security risks in your business.