Businesses of all sizes, including small to medium-sized (SMB), are appealing to hackers for many reasons. SMBs typically have a fixed amount of data backed with minimal security in most cases. It’s important to understand that a hacker can use the data they steal from you to take from many others. So to a hacker, any information could turn into a goldmine.
What Kind of Information is At Risk?
Your entire business could be at risk if you are unprepared for a cyber attack. Hackers can steal money and highly coveted information like employee personal data, customer data, and general vendor information. They can also take information regarding the basic operations of your business; for example, when deposits are made or when the fewest number of employees are working. These and other examples of basic information can advertise weaknesses in a business’ operations and create opportunities for theft.
The Damage of a Data Breach
A data breach of any type can be costly. It can easily damage your relationship with your employees, customers, and vendors. Many small business owners will be shocked to know that approximately 60% of small businesses that experience a cyber attack go out of business within six to eight months. Once it occurs, the trust lost from a data breach is catastrophic.
Prepare for Everything and Hope it Never Happens
Use these five tips to better defend any business against cyber attacks. Best of all they are things that you can start today! Here’s a 101 crash course based on 5 things you need to know.
Train Your Employees Well
All employees that use anything digital in your business should participate in your data management security plan. It's vital they understand just how important and easy it is to make a misstep.
Training should contain general cybersecurity best practices that you expect all employees to follow. Be sure to include procedures for keeping all areas of data (employee, vendor, and customer) information safe. Even more pressing, your cybersecurity policy should contain protocols that employees must follow if there is a breach.
Employees must create strong, unique passwords for each account they have at your company. They should have a different password for every desktop and mobile device they use for the organization. This way, if an employee’s work phone is breached, the intruder won’t have access to their desktop computer as well.
Two-factor authentication is important. This two-step sign-in process adds an additional layer of security to all accounts. A smart move is to send out regular digital security tips for employees, especially as you learn new things or set up a new product or software.
Keep Devices Updated
Everyone knows you should regularly update your computers and mobile devices. However, the number of people that actually do that is less than what you may think! System updates, especially operating systems and web browsers, have features and fixes to protect against the new threats.
Regularly check for new versions of the software in use should be part of your security protocol. Enable automatic updates and require that all employees acknowledge that any manual updates have been performed. Cloud software should be automatically updated by the provider.
These protocols can be tricky for remote workforces but they are just as important, if not more important due to their mobility and various network use. If your employees use mobile devices for work, make sure they use updated apps.
A data backup and recovery strategy is essential. If data is stolen or files go missing, you must have another copy that is easily accessible. Every type of device or system in your organization needs to have a backup strategy in place that is regularly tested.
The best practice for a backup strategy is the 3-2-1 rule that will keep data safe in almost any scenario. (3) Have at least three copies of your data, (2) store the copies on two different media, and (1) keep one copy offsite. Although the cloud and modern technologies are changing the structure of this rule, the principle of diversifying your backup strategy will always be the safest way to ensure the protection of your data.
Limit Access to Areas of Your System
If people don't need the information, they should not have access to it. Even your most seasoned and trusted employee should only be allowed access to information that they need to perform their jobs. A structured approach can be very helpful for how the various positions within a company have access to data and systems.
Have individual logins for employees whenever possible. This can help you limit the privileges and permissions of individual employees. Employees should never share information with their own private accounts. They also should not download that software to their own personal home computer and share back and forth.
Secure Your WiFi
Your business’ wireless internet can be an easy mark for hackers and is often the primary way to access data. Always secure your WiFi and ensure only employees can access it. If possible, have your WiFi set up in a way that prevents employees from knowing the password to obtain the actual account password.
If you need to have an open WiFi system for customers to use, it's best set up a separate guest network. Guests should never have the same WiFi access as the employees of your company. This will help prevent unauthorized people from joining your business WiFi and accessing files.