Starting and running a small business is an exciting and nerve-wracking endeavor. As you progress, get up to speed, and tackle the technology needs of your company, cybersecurity should be top of mind.
Cybersecurity, protecting internet-connected systems such as hardware, software, and data from cyber-threats is essential for every business, regardless of size.
A Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations report found that 43 percent of cyberattacks were against small businesses. This data reaffirms why startups and small businesses alike must treat cybersecurity efforts just as seriously as a large corporation mitigates risk.
Here’s a look at four cybersecurity tips that can help a small business protect its network and data.
Use strong passwords
Secure passwords are the first step to shielding company devices and data from cyberthreats. A strong password includes a mix of upper and lower case letters, special characters, and numbers.
Create policies that require every user to generate a strong password. It’s also a good idea to have an administrator enable on-screen notifications to encourage users to change or reset their own passwords before expiration. There are also free 3rd party solutions, including password expiration notification emails, that can be used by IT administrators to remind users to change passwords before they expire.
Install network security tools
Network security, policies, and practices to prevent and monitor unauthorized access, misuse, modification, or denial of a computer network and network-accessible resources, is an essential next step. For example, consider creating a Software-Defined Perimeter to restrict network access for specific users and require a log-in verification process.
Another popular and turn-key option for individuals and small businesses is to use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN can act as a virtual tunnel for your data to flow through when connected to a public network where anyone could gain access to your data and device. Install a VPN on company devices to protect your data, especially for employees who work from home.
Regularly backup data
Small businesses generally fall into two categories when it comes to data management: those who have lost data and those who will. Every company needs an effective backup plan, which should be a part of standard operating procedures.
If your business experiences a cyberattack or a power outage that knocks out devices, data backups will play a critical role as you look to get up and running again.
As a rule of thumb, businesses should create three backup locations. A local copy where users continue to rely on local data as primary file access, a local backup with instant access on-site, and a copy stored securely offsite (e.g., the cloud).
Offer cybersecurity training
According to a Kaspersky Lab report, human vulnerabilities are responsible for ninety percent of cyber attacks. As such, staff training is a proactive cybersecurity tactic. Rather than reacting to a threat, employees will know which tools will mitigate it. All team members, not just your IT department, should be trained in security precautions. Everyone should know how to create strong passwords, report and delete suspicious emails, use a VPN to access company data on a personal phone, and more.
Protect valuable company data
From company finances to business intelligence, customer data, and much more, most businesses are responsible for an abundance of valuable data.
Don’t overlook the cybersecurity needs of your business. Even small companies are susceptible to cyber threats. Protect yourself today rather than reacting tomorrow.
Jeremy Biberdorf is a internet marketer turned online entrepreneur. He runs multiple businesses including a finance blog and and advertising agency.