Operating online has provided many advantages and various opportunities for businesses of all kinds and sizes. However, operating online has also created numerous threats that can easily ruin a business as a whole. Cyber security has become increasingly important for SMBs, especially since the number of cyber threats continues to grow. Cyber attacks are more sophisticated and more common than ever. Still, 87% of small business owners believe they’re not worthy of hackers’ attention. That’s unfortunately very incorrect.
As a matter of fact, over 43% of cyber attacks are focused towards small business in particular. It’s easier for cyber criminals to target a small business with a lack of proper security measures than it is to tackle a large enterprise with virtually limitless resources. As much as hackers prefer a good challenge, they also prefer to exploit weaknesses. If you don’t protect your small business adequately, the risk of cyber attacks and data breaches becomes even greater. That being said, here are a few of the best cyber security practices for small businesses.
Train your employees
Believe it or not, 60% of cyber attacks were made possible due to an internal leak or mistake. Unaware employees can easily fall for a phishing scam or open up an infected email that makes a breach possible. That’s why the first and one of the most important cyber security practices should be to educate and train your employees.
You can implement a cyber security policy for organizational-wide use and explain to employees what practices they should follow. Also, ensure that you increase awareness about cyber threats and teach employees about the most common methods cyber criminals use to breach security and fool unaware victims. In addition, train your employees to recognize a breach and implement steps they should take in case such a breach happens.
Leverage strong and complex passwords
A cyber attack can be devastating for a small business. As a matter of fact, 60% of SMBs never recover from a cyber attack. One of the practices you can use to protect your business is to leverage strong and complex passwords. Weak passwords, such as “user1234” are easiest to crack and even an average hacker can easily gain access to your network. Most business owners use weak passwords because they’re convenient and easy to remember.
What’s more, they use the same password for more than one account, such as their business email, social media profiles and so on. To avoid unnecessary mistakes use strong and complex passwords that contain upper and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Also, make sure your password is between 12 and 20 characters long. Needless to say, never store your password in digital format and never use it twice.
Monitor your network
One of the best cyber security practices for your business is to be proactive. You can monitor your network to conduct a risk assessment and determine weaknesses in your security. That way you can fix any weak spots before hackers have an opportunity to exploit them. However, many small businesses don’t have the proper means to run a risk assessment.
In that case, you can opt for managed security as a service and let professionals monitor your network. That way, you can ensure that your network doesn’t contain any weaknesses which could lead to a potential data breach. Being aware of potential risks helps you take action and protect your business from attacks before they actually happen. After all, it’s better to avoid the data breach altogether than it is to attempt to recover from it.
Implement a security software
There’s no good cyber security practice without implementing cyber security software for your small business. Many cyber criminals use malicious software to breach security and gain access to your sensitive information.
A good security software can protect from such attacks. Cyber security software, such as anti-virus, anti-malware, anti-ransomware and so on, can greatly improve your cyber security measures. It can alert you to potential attacks and quarantine infected files. Without good software to protect your small business from harm, there’s no way to efficiently ward off any cyber attacks or data breaches.
Backup your data
Data backups are essential for protecting your business from a cyber attack. A good cyber security practice is to always have data backups for all your files and information. It’s important to understand that in this modern digital age, it’s no longer about worrying “if” an attack will happen, but about “when” it will happen.
There’s a good chance that you may fall prey to a cyber attack regardless of your security measures. In that case, it’s important to minimize and mitigate the damage. Data backup is a good way to do so. You can store backups in a cloud or external hard drives. Just make sure that backup data is stored separately from the rest of the information and preferably somewhere off-site.
Cyber security should be a primary focus for your small business. As mentioned before, most businesses never recover from a cyber attack and the damage is not only focused on your business, but your customers or clients as well. In order to ensure smooth operations for your business in the online world, implementing proper cyber security practices is an absolute must these days.