9 Cyber Security Tips for Small BusinessesDecember 22, 2014 - By: Aaron Matlock
The internet has allowed businesses, large or small, to reach more markets now than ever before. And while it has provided great opportunities for companies, it also poses many security threats. As a small business, it’s important to be certain your online activity is secure in order to make sure sensitive and private information is not stolen. Here are nine tips we found to help protect your business online:
1. Manage and asses risk
Look at company risk. What information needs the most protection? What would impact your business the most if lost? After looking at overall risk, create a risk management plan for your business. Cyber-criminals often target small businesses in order to gain access to the larger firms the company may have a relationship with. Protect your information so that your customers trust you.
2. Train your employees
When employees are properly trained on how to use company electronic devices, there will be a smaller chance files will be at risk. Establish rules so employees are aware of cybersecurity. Require strong passwords and set ground rules. Is social media off limits at the office? Do you need to block certain websites and applications? Make sure appropriate company Internet guidelines are addressed during training.
3. Protect information
Is the computer hardware up to date? Your machines will run longer and more efficiently if they are set up with the latest software, spyware and operating system. By doing this, computers will stay clean and will be protected from viruses and cyber-attacks.
4. Enable firewall
Make sure your Internet connection is protected with a firewall. Having a firewall can prevent outsiders and hackers to access your private network. Laptops are much more susceptible to attacks and theft. If employees are supplied mobile devices, make sure they know how to keep a secure, firewall-protected home network, and to lock up devices when they’re not in use.
5. Backup data
Sometimes devices can fail – they reach their breaking point or exhaust due to human error. In any case, make sure every computer in the company has a backup external drive or, even better, a cloud-based server Important files and data such as Word documents, contracts, financial spreadsheets, databases and employee information should be updated and stored weekly. Designate a person to send out a reminder email so everyone keeps up-to-date.
6. Secure Wi-Fi
Make sure the company Wi-Fi network is secure and encrypted. Ensure the network cannot be accessed without a password, and that passwords are different than the one supplied with the original purchase. Configure wireless access points so the name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID), remains hidden.
7. Limit accessibility
Make computer start-up passwords mandatory, and insist on changing those passwords a couple times a year. Make sure administrative privileges are limited – employees should not have access to alter computer settings. Trust key personnel and IT staff with network and overall password information.
8. Consider cyberinsurance
Because small businesses are often seen as easy targets for cyber-attacks, it might be worth investing in insurance. Cyberinsurance helps companies from taking a huge loss due to security breaches. Think of all bank account numbers, addresses and financial transactions that go through the computer. The cost of insurance definitely outweighs the risk of losing it all.
For some companies, it might make sense to completely outsource IT needs to a third party. Doing this can help a company save resources – if the organization doesn’t have the time or money to properly train a professional in-house. There are many benefits for outsourcing, so whether the decision is made to subcontract IT or another department, make sure the person or company hired is aligned with the hiring company’s overall business goals.
Whether the decision to made to use a third party or handle IT functions in-house, having the proper plan in place will ensure your company’s immunity to a security breach. Before reaching the final decision on a cyber-plan, confirm that all executives are on board. Encourage one another to discuss all options so the plan chosen fits the company best. Don’t want until it’s too late – start planning your small business’ security today!