As technology swiftly advances year over year, the need for cybersecurity essentials becomes increasingly critical. This is especially true for small businesses that typically need to cut corners to establish early profitability, and for small businesses that often DIY their IT tasks. Discover the most important small business cybersecurity tips and benefits that are vital to the safety and security of your systems and data.
What is a Cyber Threat?
A cybersecurity threat is any possibility of malicious activity with the intent to damage or steal data or attempts to disrupt work or life through digital means. In short, a cyber threat means someone who shouldn’t have access tries to illegally access and/or manipulate your systems or data.
Tips for Cyber Security?
There are a number of ways businesses can protect themselves. However, there are some tried and true cybersecurity measures that every small business should implement to have some foundational and basic protections against cyber threats.
1. Build in redundancy
Building redundancy into your cybersecurity system is a critical step in ensuring the protection of your organization's data. In the event of a cyberattack, having a backup system can help you quickly restore your data and minimize the impact of the attack. However, it's not enough to simply have a backup system - you also need to check it regularly to ensure that it's working properly.
Regular testing of your backup system is crucial to ensure that it will function correctly when you need it most. This testing should include restoring data from backups and verifying that the restored data is complete and accurate. It's also important to make sure that your backup system is up to date and that it's able to handle the latest threats.
2. Encrypt everything
Encryption is an essential security measure that can help protect your organization's sensitive data from cybercriminals. Encryption works by converting data into a code that can only be deciphered with a key or password. This makes it much harder for cybercriminals to access your data even if they manage to intercept it.
It's important to encrypt all communications and attachments, as well as any data that is stored on your devices or in the cloud. This includes emails, instant messages, documents, and files. It's also important to use strong encryption protocols, such as AES-256, to ensure that your data is as secure as possible.
3. Install Firewalls
Firewalls are a critical first line of defense against cyberattacks. They work by monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic based on a set of predefined rules. This can help prevent unauthorized access to your network and protect your organization's data from cybercriminals.
However, it's important to note that firewalls alone are not enough to fully protect your organization from cyberattacks. They should be used in conjunction with other security measures, such as intrusion detection and prevention systems, to provide comprehensive protection.
4. Secure physical assets
It's important to remember that physical assets, such as computers and mobile devices, can also be vulnerable to cyberattacks. These devices may be used on a variety of networks, including public Wi-Fi networks, which can make them more susceptible to attacks.
To mitigate this risk, it's important to secure all physical assets that may hold work data or contacts. This can include implementing IT security regulations for all devices, limiting personnel access with login codes, and installing tracking software where appropriate.
5. Strong Passwords and Authentication
Strong passwords and authentication are essential components of a robust cybersecurity system. Passwords should be complex and changed at regular intervals to prevent unauthorized access to your network and data. Two-factor authentication should also be required wherever possible to provide an extra layer of security.
It's important to ensure that all employees understand the value and importance of strong passwords and authentication. This can be achieved through regular training and education on cybersecurity best practices.
6. Enforce third-party security
Third-party relationships can pose a significant cybersecurity risk to your organization. Vendors, clients, and other third parties may have access to your data, and it's important to ensure that they have secure best practices in place to protect it.
You can enforce third-party security by requiring that all vendors and clients adhere to your organization's security policies and procedures. This can include conducting regular security audits and requiring that all third parties implement strong authentication measures and encryption protocols.
7. Avoid freeware
While freeware may seem like a cost-effective way to protect your organization's cybersecurity, it can actually be more harmful in the long run. Freeware often lacks the robust security features of paid software, making it more vulnerable to cyberattacks.
It's important to commit to quality cybersecurity and invest in software that has been specifically designed to provide comprehensive protection against the latest threats. This may require a larger upfront investment, but it can ultimately
8. Secure Networks and Devices
In today's world, everything is connected to the internet, and it is essential to ensure the security of all devices, including printers, copiers, and other networked machines. These devices can be a possible access point for cybercriminals, and it is crucial to secure them against any potential threats. Installing tracking software on these machines can be an effective way to track activity and pinpoint weaknesses. Limiting personnel access to these machines through login codes can also enhance security.
Another way to secure networks and devices is by implementing a "Zero Trust" model. In this model, all devices and users are treated as untrusted until they can be verified, authenticated, and authorized. It is a security model that requires strict identity verification and access control, even for devices and users within the organization's network. This model helps reduce the risk of lateral movement by attackers, which is the ability to move laterally through a network without detection.
9. Invest in Scanning and Monitoring
Investing in ongoing scanning and monitoring of possible breaches can help companies become proactive rather than reactive when a threat is present. Companies can either set up their own security operations center (SOC) or hire managed IT services providers for this task. A SOC is a team responsible for monitoring and analyzing an organization's security posture, identifying potential security incidents, and responding to security events.
Managed IT services providers can help companies with their security needs, such as vulnerability scanning, intrusion detection, and response. These services can help identify potential weaknesses and provide real-time alerts when a security event occurs, allowing companies to take immediate action.
10. Keep all Software up to Date
Outdated software is one of the most common access points for hackers. Software vendors regularly release updates and patches that address security vulnerabilities in their products. Keeping software updated ensures that the latest cybersecurity updates are installed, reducing the risk of exploitation by cybercriminals.
Companies can implement a patch management system to keep their software up to date automatically. A patch management system automates the process of finding, downloading, and installing software updates, reducing the risk of human error.
11. Conduct a Security Risk Assessment
A security risk assessment is a comprehensive evaluation of an organization's security posture. It involves identifying and analyzing potential risks and vulnerabilities, assessing the likelihood and potential impact of each risk, and developing strategies to mitigate these risks.
A security risk assessment can help companies identify previously unknown vulnerabilities and provide insight into their security posture. It is an essential step in developing a comprehensive security strategy and can help organizations prioritize their security initiatives.
Companies can conduct their own security risk assessment or hire managed IT services providers to do it for them. Managed IT services providers can provide an objective assessment of a company's security posture and develop a roadmap for enhancing security.
Even though there are increasing small business cybersecurity threats that can seem daunting or overwhelming, remember that technology and cybersecurity opportunities are also evolving. By ensuring you implement great best practices you’ll be protected against the majority of possible attacks. Follow these cybersecurity tips and also check cybersecurity benefits and you’ll find you’re much better protected than the average small business.