One of the biggest challenges of running a business online nowadays is dealing with cyberattacks. In the first quarter of 2021, 86.2% of organizations worldwide were compromised by at least one successful cyberattack.
The threat is higher for small businesses, which typically have limited resources to fight off cyber threats. Because of this, many small business owners tend to ignore the need to implement cybersecurity measures for their companies.
In this article, we will look at eight easy ways for small businesses to improve their online security and protect themselves from potential attacks.
1. Choose a Good Hosting Provider.
Choosing a good hosting provider is crucial for a business website. Hosting affects many aspects of websites, including their performance, uptime, and security. The hosting plan is one of your website’s core elements, and its protective measures are your first line of defense against online threats.
Make sure to check if your hosting provider offers essential security features like SSL certificates, a firewall, and anti-malware solutions. Also, pay attention to customer reviews and social media posts talking about the provider to see if complaints regarding cyber security are common.
Some hosting providers also offer other services like email hosting, gaming servers, and a domain checker, which can help you improve your online presence. Therefore, invest your time looking for a good hosting provider to benefit your small business in the long run.
2. Invest in Antivirus Software.
Malware and computer viruses are one of the primary causes of online security breaches worldwide. Malware led to 21% of all reported breaches in 2020. Therefore, make sure to prioritize preventative measures.
With the fact that around 300,000 new pieces of malicious software are created daily, antivirus suites that come built-in with your operating system might not be enough. Consider investing in additional antivirus software to protect your business and customer data.
Nowadays, premium antivirus software comes with additional features like web protection, anti-phishing measures, and a VPN. There are many brands of antivirus to choose from, each offering different features and pricing plans. Take the time to find out which suits your budget and needs best.
3. Install a Firewall on Your Network.
A firewall is a program or hardware that monitors data transferred on a network. This tool will protect your system against various risks by filtering traffic from untrusted sources. Since the number of devices connected to the internet is enormous, the need for firewalls has also increased.
Firewalls come in many different forms, including software preinstalled on your computer or router and cloud-based applications. They differ based on their pricing and the network sizes they’re best suited for.
If your budget is limited and your network is relatively small, there are free firewalls available with limited features. Using one is preferable to exposing your office network to cybercriminals and other online threats.
With the growing trend of remote working, consider encouraging your employees to install firewall software on their home networks and devices.
4. Limit Access to Sensitive Information.
Your company may possess sensitive information such as trade secrets, business plans, and customer data. It is in your best interest to limit access to this data to minimize the risk of breaches.
According to the Egress Insider Data Breach Survey conducted in 2021, human error is the leading cause of severe data breaches, with 84% of organizations experiencing a security incident due to employee mistakes.
Make sure each individual only has access to files or information directly related to their job. Another good practice is to limit their authority to modify the company’s devices. Tasks such as installing additional software should be conducted by the IT personnel or under their supervision.
5. Update Your Software.
Regularly updating your software has many benefits, especially with regard to cyber security. Software developers release updates that usually contain patches to close off any vulnerabilities in their product.
Any software you bought from trusted sources can ] expose you to cyberattacks if it’s outdated. Cybercriminals are always trying to find new entry points to people’s systems – they don’t shy away from exploiting software vulnerabilities.
For example, In March 2021, the cyber espionage group HAFNIUM used a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange Server to steal data from multiple American organizations.
Updating each program installed on every company device manually can be time-consuming and inefficient. Therefore, consider turning on auto-update if it’s available or use a software update management tool.
6. Train Your Employees.
Your employees are the main target of cyber threats such as email phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks. Employees who are aware of possible risks can help your company reduce the danger of being harmed by such attacks.
Therefore, business owners should conduct training regularly to educate their employees on cybersecurity issues. Introduce your staff to the most common cyberattacks and how to combat them. If possible, involve experts in training.
In addition, perform regular attack simulations to let employees know how to identify cyber-attacks in real life. Moreover, set clear rules and guidelines for using company devices and accessing sensitive files to prevent data breaches.
7. Make Backup Copies.
Even after implementing cybersecurity measures, the risk is always there. That is why having a backup of files can save your company if a cyber-attack compromises your business’s data.
Store the backup of all important files on a separate device, preferably one located away from your workplace. This can be helpful if physical damage occurs to your on-site storage. The best practice is to back up your files on a cloud server.
Some of the most popular cloud storage services are Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive. Most of these services are available for free, which is great for small businesses.
8. Create Plans for Attacks.
Like other incidents, cyber attack cases require a well-thought-out response plan. Your company needs to have a procedure in place for when a cyber-attack occurs. This will allow your team to isolate or solve the problem before it escalates and affects other parts of the business.
Encourage all employees to contact the IT personnel immediately after noticing anything strange on their work devices. Don’t forget to also create a reporting procedure for lost or stolen equipment.
Analyze every cyberattack that targeted your company and keep improving your response plan based on the outcome. Keep in mind that everyone in your company needs to be aware of the procedure for it to work properly.
The risk of cyberattacks for small businesses is the same as what larger companies face, if not higher. Because of that, having well-established cybersecurity measures is important for small companies if they want to stay operational and succeed in the current business environment.
In this article, we took a look at eight tips on how to strengthen your business’s cybersecurity, including:
- Choosing a good hosting provider.
- Investing in antivirus software.
- Installing a firewall on your network.
- Limiting access to sensitive information.
- Updating your software.
- Training employees.
- Making backups.
- Creating response plans for attacks.
With these practices implemented, your small business will be more likely to thrive. Follow these tips to protect your business and your customers’ data from cyber threats.