Cybercrime is on the rise. According to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland, a hacker strikes every 39 seconds, and it isn’t cheap. According to Cybercrime Magazine, global cybercrime costs are expected to grow by 15% per year over the next few years, reaching $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Unfortunately, small businesses are a prime target for cybercriminals, since they often have fewer cybersecurity measures in place than larger enterprises do. If you want to survive as a small business in the digital age, it’s imperative to invest in small business cybersecurity and follow best cybersecurity practices.
How to safeguard your business against cyber threats
1. Train employees on cybersecurity best practices
Cybersecurity is only effective if the whole company takes it seriously, as it only takes one data leak to jeopardize the entire business. Be sure to host regular employee cybersecurity training sessions to review how to spot phishing scams, why you should never open or download something from an unknown sender, and the importance of always logging out of your accounts and devices when you are finished with work.
2. Use strong passwords
An important part of a cybersecurity plan is using strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters long and is a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
You should also never use the same password twice; have a unique password for each account. If you have trouble remembering all your passwords, you can use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password and have it keep track of them for you.
Don’t forget to periodically change your passwords. This is an easy way to reduce the chances of your passwords being cracked, since hackers will have less time to figure them out.
3. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)
For an extra layer of security, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA), sometimes known as two-factor authentication (2FA). MFA requires users to provide a second piece of identifying information (after their password) to log in to an account. This could be a temporary code sent to their phone, a fingerprint, an eye scan, or a voice prompt. That way, hackers are even less likely to get access to sensitive business information.
4. Limit user access
Most software and systems allow you to limit user access. That means you can control the amount of sensitive data that different employees have access to. You should authorize a minimal amount of access to business data. Only provide it to those who absolutely need it to do their job.
5. Back up data to the cloud
Another easy way to boost your company’s cybersecurity is to back up your data to the cloud. This way, you won’t lose important information if data is ever lost, damaged, or stolen.
Create a regular backup schedule (weekly or daily) and then schedule the backups to happen when they will be least disruptive (at night outside of regular business hours). Dedicated backup software can help automate this process for you. The more locations where you store your backups, the better. Aim to have data stored on at least three different servers.
6. Secure networks
Your network is where your business is most vulnerable to cyber threats. You should take extra care to secure it. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Use a virtual private network (VPN), especially for remote workers.
- Use end-to-end encryption when sending messages or sharing files.
- Password protect access to your Wi-Fi routers.
- Never work on (unprotected) public Wi-Fi networks.
- Install a firewall, which monitors and controls data coming in and out of your network.
7. Invest in antivirus and anti-malware software
You can bolster your business’s cybersecurity by investing in antivirus and anti-malware software. Antivirus software protects against harmful programs intended to spread and gain access to computers and networks like a disease. Anti-malware software protects against a broader set of cyber threats, including ransomware.
Protect your business now from cyberattacks
By having such protections in place, you can detect, react to, and contain cyber threats faster to minimize their damage. Implement these tips, and your business will be better off for it.