Cybercrime is a very real and rapidly growing threat. Today, cyber threats are one of the top concerns of modern global business leaders. Unfortunately, this threat is still not being effectively addressed. While leaders in specific industries—such as law, technology, banking, and insurance—have expressed the most concern over cybersecurity risks, it is clear that businesses across all industries have begun to recognize what is at stake if cybersecurity is not taken more seriously.
Contrary to popular belief, a majority of cybercrime victims are small businesses. In fact, at least 60% of small businesses can expect to be hacked in any given calendar year. With this in mind, it is more important than ever to protect your small business from cyberthreats. Here are some cybersecurity tips to keep your business safe.
Install Antivirus Software
An antivirus acts as a basic line of defense against security attacks. There are many free and effective antivirus programs available today, so there’s really no reason for you to not install one. If you have a little leeway with your cybersecurity budget, you can consider opting for a premium antivirus plan, which will provide more advanced security measures. Premium plans usually include security against malware, viruses, spyware, and adware, and they may even throw in email virus scanning and protection.
Encryption is an integral tool when it comes to protecting your data and privacy. Encryption is a process that protects data by scrambling it via code so that it can only be accessed by those who have the “key” to the code. Essentially, encrypting your information ensures that it remains restricted to those intended to have access—and no one else.
Learning basic encryption and encouraging your employees to do the same can significantly decrease the odds of a data breach. Today, most email suites come with an included encryption feature, so take the time to explore it, then use it for online communications. There are also multiple how-to articles, free courses, and other resources that detail various encryption protocols available online. It is definitely worth your time to peruse these and develop this increasingly useful skill.
Choose Passwords Wisely
Passwords today are arguably more secure today than ever before due to multi-step authentication. Even so, the passwords feature as a major risk in an article by the UAB Collat School of Business that outlines 10 formidable corporate security risks. The author states that, “Despite evolving security measures … simple passwords can be cracked by programs that build dictionaries of potential passwords from names, birthdays, and personal interests (most of which are available on social network profiles).”
Hackers can easily access data by spoofing a computer’s IP and MAC addresses. Even with newer IoT devices, simple passwords can give cybercriminals easy access to sensitive information.
Thus, it’s important to not overlook passwords when putting together a cybersecurity plan. When choosing passwords, consider these tips:
- Use a combination of numbers, letters, and special symbols
- Use both upper and lower case letters
- Don’t trick yourself into believing a short password equals quicker access to files; complexity is what’s important
- Ensure your password falls between 12-14 characters
Secure Personal Devices
Digitization has made many things possible, including working across geographical boundaries, instant and real-time communication, and managing global teams. With digitization, remote work has become an accepted norm, and employees often prefer BYOD policies so that they are able to work from their own devices. One of the downsides of mobile devices is the risk they pose when it comes to cybersecurity. Personal and mobile devices are easy targets for hackers, and they can quickly compromise your business if they are used to store sensitive business information.
Thus, it’s very important to educate your workforce about cybersecurity so that they are able to spot threats and breaches on their personal devices. Even though these devices are harder to secure, you must make every effort to put some basic policies in place so that employees’ devices remain safeguarded. For instance, insist that any data that isn’t needed for current work assignments be deleted off employee devices. Only relevant information to complete tasks at hand should be allowed to be stored on a mobile device, and only for the duration of the task.
You could also encourage employees to use the cloud to save data rather than saving information onto their personal devices for offline use. Instead of email, which can be easily hacked into, consider using secure online signature solutions in cases where authorization is needed to complete a task. Finally, make sure any device that is used for work-related tasks has features such as remote wiping in case of a cyber emergency.
Consider Hiring Outside Help
If you’ve already got too much on your plate and devote sufficient time to keep up with cybersecurity, then consider turning to the professionals. It could be worth your while to work with a security company to stay on top of your business’s cybersecurity needs.
In fact, in a survey about the State of Cybersecurity Among Small Businesses in North America, it was noted that “17% of respondents named an outside cybersecurity prevention firm as a way they keep their data safe and another 17% listed an internal IT person or security team as a measure to reduce threats.” It might seem like an unnecessary expense at first, but prioritizing security is a sound investment and is likely to pay off in the long run.
Cybercrime is a threat that should not be taken lightly. The saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings very true when it comes to cyberattacks. If you haven’t already, use these tips to start safeguarding your business from potential cybercriminals.