In today’s world, all companies have to be aware of cybersecurity threats, regardless of size. While many believe large businesses are most at risk, often the vulnerability of small businesses makes them a frequent target of cyber attacks. Malicious actors assume your security defenses will be weak. They also assume your employees are poorly trained when it comes to security best practices and awareness. As so, it is important for small businesses to take proactive measures to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols. In this article we will go over six cybersecurity tips for your small business.
Before providing tips on how to protect against threats, it is important to know what the actual threats are. The following is a list of some of the top threats small businesses face:
- Phishing: Phishing attacks involve a threat actor who uses a range of tactics, from basic phishing emails to complex deepfakes, in order to make the target reveal valuable information.
- Malware: Malware attacks consist of a threat actor installing malware (ie malicious software), to gain access to or harm computers.
- Web-based attacks: Web-based attacks attempt to gain access to systems that store or interact with your data through services accessible through the internet, such as websites, applications, and APIs.
Six Tips to Strengthen Your Cybersecurity as a Small Business
Now that we know what threats small businesses face, what are some measures that small businesses can take to improve their cybersecurity?
1. Educate Employees on Security Measures.
Employee education may be the most important takeaway from this list. According to research conducted by Shred-it, more than 40% of senior executives and small business owners report that employee negligence was the root cause of their most recent data security breach. One of the top threats small businesses face is phishing attacks towards employees.
As so, it is important to educate your employees on the importance of taking security measures against such attacks. You can do this by training your employees to recognize and avoid suspicious emails, use complex passwords, and never leave devices unattended or unsecured. It is also important to provide your employees with information on how to safely report suspicious events and security incidents. As an added level of protection against phishing attacks, you can add spam filtering to your devices in order to prevent the majority of spam and phishing emails from entering your inbox.
2. Follow the Least-Privilege Model.
Under the least-privilege model, your users should only have access to information relevant to their duties. By strictly enforcing this guideline, you can reduce both the accidental or deliberate damage a user can do. Further, in case of an attack, this would limit the reach the attacker or malware can achieve with the user’s credentials.
3. Strengthen Password Security.
Encourage users to create complex passwords. These should require a certain level of complexity, such as the following requirements: the use of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, special characters, and minimum length. For extra protection, change passwords on a regular basis and include multi-factor authentication requirements. These techniques combined will increase your password’s strength against malicious actors.
4. Secure Your Networks.
Secure your networks by utilizing a firewall and encrypting information on your internet connection. For an added layer of protection, invest in a portable hotspot to secure and hide your Wi-Fi network, as well as prevent the network name from being publicly broadcasted. Further, avoid connecting to unsecured networks as this gives malicious actors easy access to your system.
5. Perform Frequent Backups.
Protect your data by creating frequent backups. As an added step, it is highly recommended to store a backup copy offsite. With backups in place, your company can quickly recover from an attack or disaster without having to pay for a ransomware decryption key.
6. Patch Management.
Patch management refers to the process of ensuring patches are tested, rolled out, and up-to-date on the technologies that need them. These patches are updates released by software manufacturers to both fix known system issues and protect against security vulnerabilities. Keeping all your devices, technologies, and security protocols up to date will help protect against hackers. Remember, even one vulnerable machine without the latest patches can put your entire network at risk.
By enacting these six cybersecurity tips, your small business will have better cyber defenses. A better defense ultimately reduces the risk of falling victim to a cyber attack. Remember, even small businesses are susceptible to cybersecurity threats. Malicious actors specifically target small businesses because they tend to lack the necessary security protocols to stop attacks. Don’t let your business remain vulnerable to cyber threats. Always be alert and always take proactive measures to protect your company data and systems.
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